Home / US / Hurricane Sally is threatening a “historic rain event” as it crawls towards the Gulf Coast

Hurricane Sally is threatening a “historic rain event” as it crawls towards the Gulf Coast

“We’re talking about (potentially) a historical rain event” Tuesday through Wednesday at least, Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, told CNN Tuesday morning.

Sally’s downtown – a Category 1 storm with sustained maximum winds of 85 mph – was moving over the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi coast at just 2 mph early Tuesday.

It may not move to land until early Wednesday, possibly near the state line between Mississippi and Alabama, meteorologists said.

The outer bands were already hitting parts of the Alabama coast and the Florida Panhandle with rain early Tuesday.

Some of the storm’s major threats, forecasters say:

• Life-threatening storm surges, ranging from 6 to 9 feet off the Mississippi coast in Mobile, Alabama, and up to 7 feet along the rest of coastal Alabama.

• Heavy rain and dangerous flash floods. About 1

0-30 inches of rain is possible from the end of the storm in southeastern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle.

• Strong winds. Hurricane conditions could be felt Tuesday afternoon or night in the hurricane warning area: from the Louisiana-Mississippi state line through just east of Pensacola, Florida.

The waters of the Gulf of Mexico pour onto a highway Monday in Waveland, Mississippi as Hurricane Sally approaches.

Katrina’s survivor prepares for Sally

As the storm approached on Monday, Mississippian Mike Taylor prepared by filling and placing sandbags around his Long Beach home to keep the water out.

“I just have to prepare. This is all we can do,” Taylor said.

A cross honoring the victims of Hurricane Katrina stands in the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sally.
Taylor lost her home 15 years ago during Hurricane Katrina. It was a few blocks from the beach, he said. Taylor evacuated as the storm approached and when he returned only a slab was left. One of the few items he found in the debris was a toy truck that he still keeps in the house.

Taylor is not nervous about Hurricane Sally because she believes she has already experienced a worse storm, she said.

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His 8-year-old grandson isn’t so sure of himself. Helping Taylor fill the sandbags, he told CNN that he is worried.

“I’m very nervous. The storm is coming at night and the wind can blow your house down,” the boy said.

A life Robert Higdon, 35, a resident of the Gulf Coast, also filled sandbags before the storm arrived. He said he’s not very worried about this hurricane, but he knows it’s best to “prepare for the unexpected”.

Storms in the Gulf of Mexico can intensify rapidly, he said, so he always assumes the hurricane will be a little worse than official forecasts.

“I’d rather be prepared for the unexpected,” Higdon said. “If it’s a category 2 or lower, we just step over. A lot of people are willing to get by.”

Order evacuations along the coast

The governors of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi have requested federal emergency assistance prior to landing before the storm, and each has declared a state of emergency.

“Make plans to evacuate low-lying areas,” Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said in a tweet Monday evening. “Emergency responders are ready to respond. This is the real deal and deserves your attention.”

“Be smart. Prepare for the worst. Pray for the best,” Reeves said.

Mandatory evacuations were announced along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama ahead of the storm.

Residents in Plaquemines Parish, St. Charles Parish, and parts of Jefferson Parish have been told to evacuate as floods and storm surges are expected in those areas.

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Those in low-lying Mississippi have been advised to evacuate ahead of the storm, with mandatory evacuations ordered in Hancock County, about 60 miles east of New Orleans, for anyone living near bays, streams, rivers, creeks or in mobile and modular structures the houses.
Harrison County has also ordered evacuation along the coast, including 26 miles of Harrison County Sound Beach, a county notice said.
Several shelters have been opened in the area to house the displaced.

Flights canceled before the storm

Airports in at least two states have announced the cancellation of flights due to the storm.

Pensacola International Airport in Florida is closed and Alabama’s Mobile Regional Airport canceled all flights prior to Hurricane Sally.

American Airlines reported that it is “closely monitoring” the hurricane’s route and has waived modification fees for passengers who choose not to fly due to the storm.

United and Delta also said they will allow passengers to reschedule their flights due to the hurricane.

Ashley Killough, Michael Guy, and CNN’s Carma Hassan contributed to this report.

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