Hurricane Sally has officially made landfall near Gulf Shores as a category two hurricane with sustained winds at 105 miles per hour and torrential rainfall.
Ahead of landfall, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey urged Alabamians who live on the coast and in flood-prone areas of Mobile and Baldwin counties to evacuate but many residents stayed in their homes.
Extremely Dangerous Situation. Major Flooding in Baldwin County. Severe Widespread Damage from Hurricane Sally. If you are on high ground above flooded areas, being prepared to stay where you are may be the best protection. Never drive or walk through flooded streets; Turn Around
— Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency (@BaldwinEMA) September 16, 2020
There was less time to prepare for this storm because Saturday it was predicted to land near New Orleans.
By Sunday afternoon, the storm turned and appeared to be an increasing threat to the Alabama coast, but landfall impact was still predicted along the Mississippi coast.
As the storm continued to move further and further east, emergency management officials recommended evacuations in Mobile and Baldwin Counties on Monday afternoon.
#Sally has made landfall near Gulf Shores Alabama at 445 AM CDT as a category 2 hurricane. Maximum sustained winds were 105 mph with a minimum central pressure of 965 mb. More: https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB pic.twitter.com/zdyilBhdic
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 16, 2020
The center of the hurricane is currently moving across Baldwin County as of press time, but the hurricane’s impacts are being felt far from the eye.
The National Hurricane Center is forecasting rainfall in excess of 20 inches in some areas — and the potential for “historic” flooding.
Residents are urged to remain in their homes and not attempt any sort of travel for any reason. Rivers will continue to rise even after the storm passes.
Beaches remain closed. This is not the time for sightseeing. Please stay in your homes if you are anywhere near this storm.
— Michelle Platt, REALTOR (@MsMichellePlatt) September 16, 2020
Congressman Bradley Byrne said on social media before the storm made landfall, “Conditions are rapidly worsening, and now is the time to hunker down. There is no need for anyone to be on the roads overnight as the storm comes ashore. Flooding remains a major concern across Southwest Alabama. Everyone hang in there and contact 911 in the event of an emergency!”
People in low-lying, flood-prone areas were urged to evacuate before the storm arrived. It is obviously too late now. People who live in these areas should stock up on fresh water, if they have to fill their bath tub and pots and pans and let family know that they are there in their homes.
The federal government, at Ivey’s request, has already declared a public state of emergency for the area. Federal and state resources will rush into the area once the weather improves.
The remains of Hurricane Sally are expected to move to the northeast, impacting much of South Alabama over the course of the day.
— Tyler Fingert (@TylerFingert) September 16, 2020
The National Hurricane Center reported that radar detected gusts as high as 125 miles per hour.
Sally was just a tropical storm as late as Monday but strengthened to a hurricane over the course of the day.
By 10 p.m. on Monday, it had reached category two strength. Overnight Monday into Tuesday, it lost strength, reverting to category one strength.
The National Hurricane Center was predicting it would come ashore as a category one, but before it made landfall early Wednesday morning, it strengthened back to category two.
Orange Beach resident Jim Peeples told ABC 33/40 meteorologist James Spann, “OMG.. Cat 2 in Orange Beach.. The building is concrete and steel, but it’s shaking. It sounds like a freight train.”