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Hurricane Sally Comes Ashore Near Gulf Shores AL
By The Associated Press
NAVARRE, FLORIDA - Hurricane Sally made landfall Wednesday morning as a Category 2 storm, bringing torrential rain over a coastal storm surge that forecasters said would cause dangerous flooding from the Florida Panhandle to Mississippi and well inland in the days ahead.

The slow-moving hurricane finally came ashore at Gulf Shores, Alabama at 4:45 a.m. with top winds of 105 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

A newly strengthened Sally pummeled the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama, crawling north-northeast at an agonizingly slow pace of 3 miles per hour. That promised a drawn out drenching and possible record floods for at least 20 of the 25 local rivers.

Some 150,000 homes and businesses had lost electricity by early Wednesday, according to the poweroutage.us site. 

Hurricane Sally’s northern eyewall is raking the Gulf Coast with hurricane-force winds and rain from Pensacola Beach, Florida, westward to Dauphin Island, Alabama, the National Hurricane Center said. It's also pushing up to 9 feet of storm surge onto beaches already dealing with more than two feet of rain in the past 24 hours. 

Stacy Stewart, a senior specialist with the National Hurricane Center says the Category 2 hurricane could strengthen further before the entire eyewall moves inland.

The hurricane will bring “catastrophic and life threatening” rainfall over portions of the Gulf Coast, Florida panhandle and southeastern Alabama through Wednesday night, he said. Stewart said the hazards associated with the hurricane are going to continue after it makes landfall, with the storm producing heavy rainfall Wednesday night and Thursday over portions of central and southern Georgia.

Sally is a rare storm that could make history, said Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center.

“Sally has a characteristic that isn’t often seen, and that’s a slow forward speed that’s going to exacerbate the flooding. Up to 30 inches of rain could fall in some spots, and that would be record-setting in some locations,” Rappaport said in an interview Tuesday night.

Although the hurricane had the Alabama and Florida coasts in its sights Wednesday, its effects were felt all along the northern Gulf Coast. Low lying properties in southeast Louisiana were swamped by the surge. Water covered Mississippi beaches and parts of the highway that runs parallel to them. Two large casino boats broke loose from a dock where they were undergoing construction work in Alabama.

After dumping rain on the coast Wednesday, Sally was forecast to bring heavy downpours to parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas later in the week.

Sally's power was an irresistible draw for some in its path. With heavy rains pelting Navarre Beach and the wind-whipped surf pounding, a steady stream of people walked down the wooden boardwalk at a park for a look at the scene on Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Teddy has now become a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph the National Hurricane Center said early Wednesday.

Teddy is located about 820 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.

Some strengthening is forecast during the next few days, and Teddy could reach Category 4 strength on Thursday.

Published 05:02 AM, Wednesday Sep. 16, 2020
Updated 04:50 PM, Wednesday Sep. 16, 2020

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