A slow-moving Hurricane Sally trudged ashore the northern Gulf Coast early Wednesday as a fierce Category 2 storm, bringing with it the threat of torrential rain and devastating flash floods from the Florida Panhandle to Mississippi and then well inland.
Sally made landfall at about 6 a.m. on the Gulf Shores of Alabama with sustained winds of up to 105 mph. According to the National Hurricane Center’s most recent update, the storm is currently marching north-northeast at just 3 mph hour.
Sally’s painfully slow trek across the Atlantic has allowed for the hurricane to gather massive amounts of water to dump on land. Forecasters have warned the storm’s sluggish pace will result in lingering rainfall, which could spark “catastrophic” and “life-threatening” flooding along parts of the north-central Gulf Coast.
Most of the region first started experiencing huge amounts of rainfall more than 24 hours ahead of Sally’s landfall. Some locations have already seen up to 25 inches, an amount that could double depending on how quickly it continues to fall, according to the National Weather Service in Mobile, Ala.
A flash flood emergency alert has been issued until 8 a.m. for parts of Alabama and the Florida panhandle, including Pensacola. And Okaloosa and Santa Rosa County, both located in Florida, will remain under alert until 11:45 a.m.
“These warning are issued for exceedingly rare situations when a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood is happening,” NWS said in a statement Wednesday morning.
“This is a life-threatening situation. Seek higher ground now.”
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