Home / US / Hurricane Sally strengthens to category 2 as it approaches landfall, causing potentially lethal flooding

Hurricane Sally strengthens to category 2 as it approaches landfall, causing potentially lethal flooding

The slow storm is expected to land between Gulfport, Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida late Wednesday morning if it maintains its current 2 mph northward. Winds of 100 mph were recorded from an Air Force Reserve aircraft and Mobile, Alabama, Doppler radar.

More than 150,000 people are already without electricity along the Gulf coast, and thousands were evacuated before the storm.

The storm has already caused floods and storm surges in several coastal communities and resulted in the evacuation of thousands of people directly in its path.
Sally’s sustained maximum winds strengthened to 90 mph Tuesday night, but the storm’s pace is moving at a slow 2 mph. The slow speed is expected to continue until Wednesday as it turns north and then northeast, bringing with it strong winds and potential historic floods.


7;s satellite images indicate that the eye is reforming early Wednesday, which is another sign of strengthening, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.

Rainfall of 10 to 20 inches is expected in Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle, with isolated amounts of 30 inches possible.

Florida National Guard activated 175 members to prepare for search and rescue operations, with 30-foot-high water vehicles on standby for use if needed, according to a tweet from Emergency Management Division.
Sally's two biggest threats are internal floods and storm surges

The slow-moving nature of the storm also means that hurricane force winds and storm surges will be in the area longer, particularly east of the storm’s center.

Flash floods with rainfall amounts of 6 to 10 inches could be seen in Georgia and Carolina later this week as the storm moves inland and weakens.

Widespread power outages and delayed water repairs

According to PowerOutage.US, more than 150,000 customers lost power in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida early Wednesday morning.

Those in Sally’s path are also experiencing water outages as conditions are not safe to repair public services due to the storm.

The Excambia County Utilities Authority issued a warning Tuesday that they are unable to respond to a significant water outage in Pensacola Beach due to stormy conditions and the closure of bridges before Sally.

The water system was supposed to be closed at around 11pm. as storm and tide levels will also flood the sewer collection system, according to ECUA.

“We urge residents who are still on Pensacola Beach to store water if possible. ECUA will send crews to locate the break and make repairs as soon as possible after the storm,” the notice read.

Businesses close and military bases restrict access

Businesses are also closing due to the storm, with Walmart announcing 54 closures due to Sally, Walmart spokesman Scott Pope told CNN on Tuesday.

The shelves were emptied by the storm of people preparing in front of Sally in Alabama.

“We are monitoring the storm in real time and have activated our Emergency Operations Center to support our associates in the affected areas,” Pope said.

Across the Gulf Coast, three military installations announced that only essential mission personnel should show up for work Wednesday.

5 tropical cyclones are found in the Atlantic simultaneously for only the second time in history

The facilities are Naval Air Station Pensacola in Escambia County, Florida, Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, and Eglin Air Force Base in Pensacola.

Keeslar is the home of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, often referred to as “hurricane hunters”.

Residents evacuating and preparing

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for much of the coast and lowlands from Mississippi to Florida. Shelters have been opened to accommodate those displaced persons.

People have been preparing for Sally since the weekend, filling sandbags, grabbing supplies and preparing their homes.

Shelters have been opened to house the displaced.

Merrill Warren of Summerdale, Alabama, which is about 16 miles inland from the Gulf, told CNN that she brought furniture, bought gas and other supplies, and prepared her generator for the storm.

On Tuesday night it reported that heavy rain and winds of up to 39 mph had already hit inland. Warren said he was more concerned about the potential for increased rainfall and spikes than anything else.

Quick facts of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season

“This isn’t the first Category 1 hurricane I’ve been through. I’ve been there through Hurricane Nate and Tropical Storm Gordon,” Warren said. “I’m more concerned about rain for this … Rain and storms will surely be the biggest problem with a storm moving at 2 mph.”

Devon Sayers, Joe Sutton, Sharif Paget, Micahel Guy, Dave Hennen, Rebekah Riess, Kay Jones, and CNN’s Amanda Jackson contributed to this report.

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