Hurricane Sally updates: Gulf Coast braces for flooding, dangerous storm surge

BY: MAX GOLEMBO, EMILY SHAPIRO, and MELISSA GRIFFIN, ABC News

(MOBILE BAY, Alabama) — Hurricane Sally is taking aim on the Gulf Coast where it’s forecast to bring dangerous storm surge and historic and life-threatening flooding.

Sally, which is crawling toward the coastline, is expected to make landfall near Mobile Bay, Alabama, as a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday morning.

Up to 30 inches of rain is possible.

Wind gusts have already surpassed 60 mph off the Louisiana coast.

Hurricane warnings are in effect in Biloxi, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida.

Mobile to Pensacola will experience wind gusts up to 70 mph Tuesday night.

Because Sally is barely moving, the heavy rain is forecast to last for hours, causing dangerous flooding.

East of Biloxi is forecast to get the worst of the rain and flooding.

Storm surge may reach 4 to 7 feet in Mobile Bay, and 4 to 6 feet in eastern Louisiana. Pensacola and Biloxi could see 3 to 5 feet of storm surge.

The gusty winds and heavy rain will continue from Mobile to Pensacola and into Panama City before spreading north into Alabama through the day Wednesday.

South and central Alabama may get over 15 inches of rain.

As Sally progresses across the Southeast states, the winds will be weaker but the heavy rain remains a concern. Six to 12 inches of rain is forecast for Montgomery, Alabama, and Atlanta through Friday morning. Even the Carolinas will see rainfall.

Florida police on Tuesday began closing the Pensacola Bay Bridge, which connects Pensacola with Pensacola Beach.

“We urge you to stay home and off the roadways if you can,” Pensacola police said.

Storm surge 🌊 at Quietwater Beach.
Picnic area/parking lot flooded.
Wooden trash bins pushed to edge of lot.#pensacolabeach #Florida #Sally #HurricaneSally2020 #HurricaneSally @weartv pic.twitter.com/flSOaAAn0v

— Carolyn Cerda (@CarolynCerdaTV) September 15, 2020

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey ordered beaches closed Monday afternoon and said she was “recommending an evacuation, especially of non-residents, and those living in flood-prone areas south of I-10.”

“Sally is shaping up to be a very dangerous and historic flooding event,” Brian Hastings, director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, said Tuesday. “If you are in a low-lying area or a flood-prone area, get to a safer place.”

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said residents outside the levee protection system must evacuate.

In Hancock County, Mississippi, officials ordered a mandatory evacuation for low-lying areas.

In Biloxi, Mississippi, casino resorts were ordered to close.

“We have two concerns,” Biloxi Mayor Andrew Gilich said Monday. “First, that our residents are taking this seriously and have made preparations, and second, that this is a slow-moving storm, which means we’ll see heavy flooding along the front beach and in low-lying areas, especially along the rivers and Bay.”

Flooded roads are barricaded for your safety. Please DO NOT drive around the barricades. Beach Blvd. is closed!! We ask that you refrain from joy riding due to standing water & live wires being down. We’ll post updates throughout the day so stay tuned and stay safe! #PascagoulaPD pic.twitter.com/Qbrl8AfCQ4

— Pascagoula Police (@pascagoulapd) September 15, 2020

“Residents need to have a plan and follow that plan,” he said.

Sally is the seventh hurricane so far this season; the average at this time is six.

Sally will be third hurricane making landfall along the Gulf Coast this season.

The storm will also be the fourth hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. this season. The last time the nation had more than four hurricanes to make landfall was in 2005 when there were five, including Hurricane Katrina.

This report was featured in the Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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