By WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Hurricane Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama, just before 6 a.m. ET Wednesday as a dangerous Category 2 storm, and is now bringing the threat of catastrophic and life-threatening flooding to the Gulf Coast.
Sally is crawling north-northeast at 3 mph.
Up to 4 inches of rainfall an hour is possible within the intense bands of rain north and east of the storm’s center.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency alert until 8 a.m. ET for parts of Alabama and the Florida panhandle, including Pensacola. Parts of Florida’s Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties are under the emergency alert until 11:45 a.m.
“These warnings are issued for exceedingly rare situations when a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood is happening,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said Wednesday morning. “This is a life-threatening situation. Seek higher ground now.”
Some areas have already received up to 25 inches of rain, which according to the NWS in Mobile, Alabama, could be doubled given how quickly the rain has fallen in a short period of time.
Pensacola, where storm surge is being reported, is seeing wind gusts up to 75 mph.
“Flooded roadways and intersections, along with hazardous debris in roadways (locations), have become too numerous to list,” the Pensacola Police Department said. “Please stay off the roadways now.”
The slow-moving storm has already forced some local first responders to stay indoors. The Orange Beach Police Department in Alabama said it could no longer respond to calls.
“Present conditions are preventing us from answering calls at this time. Please take all measures to be as safe as possible,” the department tweeted. “If you have the option to move to higher ground do so now.”
More than 226,000 customers in Alabama and 132,000 customers in Florida are without power.
Hurricane Sally’s latest path shows the storm tracking northeast. After Wednesday, remnants of Sally will continue to inch inland toward Atlanta, where up to a foot of rain is possible.
Heavy rain will even spread into South Carolina, North Carolina and southern Virginia, where some areas could see up to a half a foot of rain. Flash flooding is expected there Friday.
This storm has also resulted in several tornado warnings, though no tornadoes have been confirmed yet. A tornado watch was issued for parts of Florida, Georgia and Alabama until 7 p.m. ET.
Sally is the eighth continental U.S. named storm to make landfall in 2020. The other named storms to make landfall in 2020 so far have been: Bertha, Cristobal, Fay, Hanna, Isaias, Laura and Marco.
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