Hurricane Sally made landfall Tuesday morning near Gulf Shores, Alabama, bringing extreme flooding rainfall, dangerous storm surge, and damaging winds. According to The Weather Channel, the storm made landfall at 4:45 a.m. CDT as a Category 2 with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph.
Bands of heavy rain and strong winds are reportedly affecting the northern Gulf Coast, including parts of the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama. More than 400,000 homes and businesses have already lost power in south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Although damaging winds are having an impact, Sally's slow movement of approximately 3 miles per hour brings with it concerns of life-threatening storm surge and the potential for historic flooding.
Sally is expected to bring rainfall totals of 30 inches or more in some areas, with the Pensacola Naval Air Station measuring the highest rainfall total so far at 24 inches. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has warned that due to this, historic flooding is possible from Sally near and just inland from the northern Gulf Coast. The heaviest rainfall is expected to occur from extreme southeast Alabama into the western Florida Panhandle, with NOAA's Weather Prediction Center issuing rare high risk of excessive rain for this area on Wednesday. However, there is concern that heavy rainfall could also trigger flooding farther inland across other parts of southern and central Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas through Thursday night.
CNN reports that high-water rescues were already underway Wednesday morning as homes flooded and trees toppled onto roofs in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The National Weather Service has also issued a flash flood emergency for "severe threat to human life & catastrophic damage from a flash flood," encouraging people to "SEEK HIGHER GROUND NOW!!" As Hurricane Sally continues to ravage parts of the south, images of this warned flooding taking place in Pensacola are already beginning to appear online.
Most of downtown Pensacola is FLOODED and the water keeps rising. Very serious situation unfolding with the worst of #Sally still hours away. View from our hotel. Whitecaps rolling down most streets. @cityofpensacola @weatherchannel pic.twitter.com/VcIksbSAJ4— Chris Bruin (@TWCChrisBruin) September 16, 2020
"This is Main Street and obviously it looks more like a river."@ABC News Senior Meteorologist @RobMarciano shows massive flooding seen in downtown Pensacola, Florida, as the eye wall of #HurricaneSally continues to batter the coast. https://t.co/3j4fZNPVA0 pic.twitter.com/S0LOdAyU6o— ABC News (@ABC) September 16, 2020
Corner of Jefferson and Main in Downtown Pensacola. Absolutely surreal to see so much of the city underwater from storm surge. @NWSMobile @weatherchannel @cityofpensacola #Hurricane #sally pic.twitter.com/xW2t07DmIY— Chris Bruin (@TWCChrisBruin) September 16, 2020
It may be hard to believe, but this is a street right now in #Pensacola. It looks like a lake or river. This is one of many areas experiencing major flooding from #HurricaneSally. @weartv @NWSMobile @ABC #Sally #FLWx pic.twitter.com/JQUEIlrxKy— Renee Beninate (@reneebeninate) September 16, 2020
Boats all over the road after the surge in #OrangeBeach pushed them on shore. Large house fire also north of town but cant reach it due to the #surge still flooding roads. #HurricaneSally really doing a number on the #GulfCoast. ALDOT still has the roads towards Pensacola closed pic.twitter.com/FCjTIuMQ5x— Bart Comstock (@SvrWxChaser) September 16, 2020
Pensacola, Florida These two pictures were taken from the same building. One was before Hurricane Sally, the other during the height of the storm. Wind gusts topped out at around 90 mph here this morning (9/16/20). Photo cred: Aaron Fields. #FLwx #Sally pic.twitter.com/WfFk14ZHiu— Amber Wheeler (@AmberWheelerWX) September 16, 2020
Downtown Pensacola this morning. Water levels in downtown have been reported of being 3-4 feet with water continuing to rise. Please DO NOT get out in this. Photo from News 5 Photojournalist Dan Kettinger. pic.twitter.com/QHyzDrzAlI— Thomas Geboy (@ThomasGeboyWX) September 16, 2020
Video by Kinga Switzer from Bayshore Drive in Pensacola, Florida pic.twitter.com/Vt0LNe9iU8— Kaitlin Wright (@wxkaitlin) September 15, 2020