Sally is the fourth hurricane to land in the United States this year after Hanna, Isaias and Laura – the hardest hit by the same date in 16 years.
It degraded into a tropical storm after landing, then weakened further into a tropical depression on Wednesday night. But despite the loss of strength, floods remained a concern as they soaked southeastern Alabama and central Georgia on Thursday. From there, he will move to South Carolina tonight.
Wherever it goes, disastrous floods are expected to trigger.
Florida sees four months of rain in four hours
While Sally has weakened since she landed, her devastation will be felt in several states. At least eight rivers in southwestern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle are expected to reach major flood stages.
Total rainfall of 10 to 35 inches is possible from Mobile Bay to Tallahassee, Florida, meteorologists said.
In Pensacola and other parts of Florida, where rivers approached at dangerous levels and felled trees and power lines made roads dangerous, counties instituted curfews to keep residents safe.
Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, has asked residents to stay home so teams can evaluate roads and bridges. Local law enforcement will enforce the dusk-to-dawn curfew for three nights starting Wednesday.
“We are still on a lifesaving evaluation and rescue mission, and we need to be able to do that job,” County Commissioner Robert Bender said. “We are still evaluating our roads and bridges to make sure they are safe.”
The crews rescued 377 people near the state border with Alabama and feared many more could be in danger in the coming days, said Jason Rogers, the county’s director of public safety.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the danger was far from over, warning that “virtually any body of water in Northwest Florida” could see a rise in levels in the coming days due to Sally.
“There will be a lot of property damage,” he added. “When you see downtown Pensacola, you see three feet of water there, this will likely affect every business that is in downtown Pensacola – there are no two ways to do this.”
Alabama warned to remain vigilant
In Gulf Shores, near the spot where the hurricane landed, Doris Stiers assessed the damage outside her beach house. She was flabbergasted.
“It looks like a war zone,” he told CNN. “A lot of destruction, destroyed houses, gone roofs. I had no service, electricity or internet. Bad night.”
Matt Wilson, an Orange Beach resident who weathered the storm at home, said it was terrifying.
Alabama officials have warned that even as the storm has subsided, residents should not let their guard down.
“The storm may have cleared our local area, but it is important to remain vigilant as many areas are still affected by persistent flooding,” tweeted the National Weather Service in Mobile.
What are the prospects beyond Florida and Alabama
Sally was downgraded to a tropical depression with sustained winds of around 35 mph. Rains are still a significant threat, and its risks aren’t limited to Florida and Alabama.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered across much of the coast and lowlands from Mississippi to Florida and shelters have been opened to accommodate displaced people.
Southeast Alabama and central Georgia could see 4 to 12 inches of rain, with possible significant flash floods. Parts of South Carolina are expected to receive 4 to 10 inches of rain, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.
Western and central North Carolina and the extreme southeast of Virginia could see up to 8 inches in isolated areas, he added.
“We have already seen significant flooding in portions of Alabama from this rain band. Please remember, turn around don’t drown,” tweeted the National Weather Service in Atlanta.
In addition to rain, there is a slight risk of bad weather along Sally’s path with possible isolated tornadoes, ”Shackelford said.
Nicole Chavez, Jason Hanna, and CNN’s Tina Burnside contributed to this report.