Mobile, Alabama-area residents braved wind and rain on Tuesday (September 15), trying to catch a glimpse of Hurricane Sally’s wrath as it churned in the Gulf of Mexico towards.
The hurricane made a slow-motion crawl towards the U.S. Gulf Coast, threatening historic floods and prolonged rainfall as storm-force winds started to lash the shore and governors of four states urged people to flee the coastline.
Sally could wallop the Alabama, Florida and Mississippi coasts on Tuesday night or early Wednesday (September 16) with massive flash flooding and storm surges of up to 7 feet (2 meters) in some spots, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Its languid pace recalls 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, which dumped several feet of rain over a period of days on the Houston area, causing major damage.
Thomas Harms brought his family to Fairhope Municipal Pier to teach his son about the storm.
“When I was young, when the storms would come in, we’d go out and we’d come to the bay, or go to the beach or go to my grandma’s house or whatever. We go see the storm and see what it was doing. And he would kind of explain to me how it works and what was going on, and kind of take a little bit of the fear out of it and also help you understand the dangers of it too. And I’ve been kind of passing that on to my son in doing the same thing,” he said.
Others said boredom brought them out into the elements.
“We were at home saying ‘we’re bored’, so I was like ‘how ’bout we go to Fairhope and see how bad it is out there.’ Well, as you see, it’s pretty bad out here. So, but I don’t see any hurricane yet. But when night comes, I highly doubt I’ll be out here,” said Warren Babb.
More than 2 feet (.6 meters) of rain was expected in some areas, with “extreme life-threatening flash flooding likely through Wednesday,” an NHC forecaster said. While Sally’s winds decreased to 80 miles per hour (140 kpm) at 4 p.m.(2100 GMT), it was moving at a glacial pace of two mph. Sally was 85 miles (135 km) south of Mobile, Alabama and spreading tropical-storm-force winds onshore, the NHC said.
Sally will slow even more after landfall, causing Atlanta to see as much as 6 inches (15 cm) of rain through Friday, said Jim Foerster, chief meteorologist at DTN, an energy, agriculture and weather data provider. “It’s going to be a catastrophic flooding event” for much of the southeastern United States, Forester said, with Mobile to the western part of the Florida Panhandle taking the brunt of the storm.
The causeway to Dauphin Island, Alabama, at the entrance to Mobile Bay was already flooded and impassable by Tuesday morning, the mayor said.
(Production: Catherine Koppel)