Sally still dumping heavy rain as it moves slowly north
Tropical Storm Sally continues to produce heavy rain in eastern Alabama and western Georgia as it moves slowly northeast, according to the National Hurricane Center. As of Wednesday evening, Sally was located about 70 miles west-northwest of Dothan, Alabama. The storm was moving northeast at 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.
The NHC also warned that “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding” was continuing in parts of southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
Alabama utility company warns of “prolonged, extensive outages”
An electric utility in south Alabama is warning people hit by power outages from the passage of Sally that they may not get their lights back any time soon.
Baldwin EMC, the electric utility that services Baldwin County and part of a neighboring county in southeastern Alabama, posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that it had crews going out to assess the damage. But the utility warned customers they could be in for “prolonged, extensive outages due to the amount of damage.”
“We don’t want to sugar coat this; we’re in it for the long haul,” the message said. Utility officials have asked people who had medical equipment needing electricity to start making alternative plans.
More than 500,000 residential and business customers of utilities in Alabama and Florida have been hit with outages, poweroutage.us reported Wednesday afternoon.
Florida governor warns of major river flooding
Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, is warning people in the state’s hard-hit panhandle to remain vigilant as Sally heads inland, warning major river flooding could come next.
DeSantis told a news conference Wednesday afternoon that Sally is dumping heavy rains as it treks inland across the Southeast. He said that is expected to cause massive flooding of several Florida Panhandle rivers in the coming days.
“So this is kind of the initial salvo, but there is going to be more that you’re going to have to contend with,” DeSantis said at an appearance at the state emergency operations center in Tallahassee.
As the rivers crest, DeSantis said, areas that weren’t initially flooded by the passing hurricane could still be affected, with residents forced to evacuate.
Over 370 rescued from floods in Escambia County, Florida
Authorities in Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, said at least 377 people had been rescued from flooded areas. More than 40 people trapped by high water were brought to safety within a single hour, including a family of four found in a tree, Sheriff David Morgan said.
Officials in Pensacola, where Sally turned some streets into white-capped rivers for a time, said 200 National Guard members would arrive Thursday to help. Curfews were announced in Escambia County and in some coastal Alabama towns.
Morgan estimated thousands will need to flee rising waters in the coming days. Escambia officials urged residents to rely on text messages for contacting family and friends to keep cellphone service open for 911 calls.
“There are entire communities that we’re going to have to evacuate,” the sheriff said. “It’s going to be a tremendous operation over the next several days.”
Tropical weather helps spread wildfire smoke to East Coast
Several tropical weather systems have caused more than heavy rain and high storm surges, as strong winds push smoke and plumes of carbon dioxide from wildfires in California and Oregon toward the Midwest and East Coast, according to NASA imaging.
While most smoke conditions in the east will be mild compared to the poor air quality advisories across the West Coast, hurricane winds will continue to spread carbon dioxide as well as smoke, which is a longer-lasting pollutant.
“Lots of downed power lines, lots of creeks overflowing”
Pensacola resident Rodney Landrum compared Hurricane Sally to powerful Hurricane Ivan, which blasted ashore in neighboring coastal Alabama on September 16, 2004.
The 51-year-old computer database engineer recalled Hurricane Ivan as being “hellish, nightmarish.” It even blew tiles off his roof.
This time, Sally left his roof intact. And Landrum even slept as Sally blew ashore early Wednesday. He didn’t experience any flooding though many large trees came down, including a big tree that toppled on the roof of a neighbor.
“Lots of downed power lines, lots of creeks overflowing,” said Landrum after a drive in his neighborhood. “Nothing was open except for one McDonalds, which had a line of about 45 cars.”
Rescues underway in parts of Alabama and Florida
Two people were rescued on Alabama’s Dauphin Island after catastrophic storm surge and hurricane winds destroyed their home, the Associated Press reported. The residents called emergency services after the roof of their home was completely ripped off, and the rest of their home crumbled under the pressure of the water.
“As things started to peel off and fall apart, they got scared and called for assistance,” said Mayor Jeff Collier.
The Dauphin island residents were two of many Alabama, Florida and Mississippi residents rescued by emergency services after Hurricane Sally made landfall.
In Orange Beach, Alabama, 50 residents were rescued after storm surges flooded their homes, the AP reported. In Florida, a family of four were found in a tree in Escambia County, while 40 other homeowners were rescued from the floods.
The high-level winds and rising floodwaters are expected to cause more evacuations and emergency rescues throughout the next few days.
Florida National Guard deployed to Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
The Florida National Guard has activated 500 soldiers and airmen in response to the tropical storm. The National Guard will help with search and rescue missions, shelter support and food and water distribution, CBS affiliate WKRG reported.
The state’s National Guard said it is prepared to conduct aerial search missions on Thursday morning.
Several boats sunk at Florida pier as Sally hits
Several boats docked at a pier in Pensacola, Florida, have sunk as Sally moved over the Gulf Coast. Pensacola police spokesperson Mike Wood also said Wednesday he doesn’t know the whereabouts of a replica of one of the ships that made Christopher Columbus’s historic voyage.
Sally, now a tropical storm, lumbered ashore Wednesday morning near the Florida-Alabama line as Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds and rain measured in feet, not inches. It has swamped homes and trapped people in high water as it creeps inland for what could be a long, slow and disastrous drenching across the Deep South.
Updated list of storm warnings
The following warnings were in effect as of 1 p.m. CT, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:
- Alabama/Florida border to the Walton/Bay County Line Florida
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:
- Mississippi/Alabama border eastward to Indian Pass Florida
The hurricane center notes that a Hurricane Warning from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line has been changed to a Tropical Storm Warning, and that Storm Surge Warning from Dauphin Island, Alabama, to the Alabama/Florida border was discontinued.
Part of the Three Mile Bridge knocked out in Pensacola
Sally has knocked out part of the new Three Mile Bridge, located in Pensacola, Florida.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan confirmed at a news conference Wednesday that a section of the bridge came off as the hurricane battered the city, the Associated Press reported.
Santa Rosa County Emergency Management tweeted a picture showing the damage.
Alabama governor: “Many areas” are seeing historic flooding
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said Wednesday that “many areas” along Mobile and the eastern shoreline of Mobile Bay are seeing historic flood levels.
She pleaded with people to stay home and not go on roads to check on storm damage unless absolutely necessary.
“It is imperative that we all heed warnings from our trusted weather experts and local leaders,” she said in a statement.
Coast Guard helicopters flying over Gulf Coast
The U.S. Coast Guard has sent helicopters flying over the Gulf Coast to check for anyone in distress as Hurricane Sally pummels the region with wind and rain.
In a statement, the agency says MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and MH-65 Dolphin choppers were checking for trouble, but had no immediate reports of any distress calls or search-and-rescue incidents as of mid-morning Wednesday.
Photos show floodwaters in Penscola
Photos emerging Wednesday from Pensacola, Florida, showed floodwaters reaching disturbing levels – immersing roads and entrapping vehicles.
“There are entire communities that we’re going to have to evacuate”
Emergency crews plucked people from flooded homes Wednesday. In Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, more than 40 were rescued, including a family of four found in a tree, said Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan.
Morgan estimated thousands more will need to flee rising waters in the coming days. County officials urged residents to stick to text messages for contacting family and friends to keep cellphone service open for 911 calls.
“There are entire communities that we’re going to have to evacuate,” Morgan said. “It’s going to be a tremendous operation over the next several days.”
The storm collapsed a section of the Three Mile Bridge across Pensacola Bay, the sheriff said, and crews struggled to stop a barge that had broken loose from drifting into a nearby bridge that is part of Interstate 10. Officials closed I-10, which runs parallel to the Gulf Coast, in hard-hit areas of both Florida and Alabama
Roads under water in Florida’s Walton County
Authorities tweeted pictures Wednesday showing flooding in Walton County, Florida, which is several hours east of where Sally made landfall.
The images showed one car stuck in flooding and others trying to cross a treacherous swath of roadway covered in water.
Over half a million power outages reported
More than 500,000 power outages are being reported in Florida and Alabama as Sally pummels portions of the two states.
Another 60,000 outages are being reported in Mississippi and Louisiana, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks outages across the country.
Officials across the region have warned people to sty indoors due to dangerous conditions including damage to roads, flooding and downed power lines.
Latest list of warnings and watches
The following warnings and watches were in effect Wednesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:
- Dauphin Island Alabama to the Walton/Bay County Line Florida
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:
- Mississippi/Alabama border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line, Florida
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:
- East of the Okaloosa/Walton County line Florida to Indian Pass. Florida
Alabama gov.: “Please only call 9-1-1 for a LIFE THREATENING emergency”
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey urged residents Wednesday morning to only call 911 for life-threatening emergencies.
“We have to utilize our first responders for the most critical needs,” she tweeted. “Urgent to stay indoors and stay safe to keep our first responders available for those who truly need it the most.”
Like other officials across the Gulf Coast, she urged people not to go outside to check on damage, and to stay away from live power lines and fallen trees.
McEnany: White House “fully engaged” amid storm
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says the White House is “fully engaged” as Hurricane Sally pounds the Gulf Coast with wind and rain.
Speaking Wednesday morning on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” McEnany said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is also fully engaged and cited President Donald Trump’s issuance of emergency declarations for the affected states.
McEnany didn’t have details on which officials the president had spoken with as of Wednesday morning but said “it’s safe to say the White House has been in active contact with all of these governors.”
Rainfall amounts “are piling up” along the coast
Forecasters report that rainfall amounts are “piling up” in the Florida Panhandle and southeast Alabama.
Sally had already dumped as much as 18″ of rain in some areas as of early Wednesday, creating catastrophic flash flooding, the National Weather Service said.
Orange Beach extends curfew, warns of life-threatening conditions
A curfew in Orange Beach, Alabama, has been extended until 12 p.m. Wednesday and will likely be extended again as officials get a better sense of the damage. The city told residents to shelter in place and warned of life-threatening conditions that will likely continue into Wednesday afternoon.
The city said first responders have been inundated with calls and asked everyone to “please be patient.”
“They are doing everything they can to assist,” it said in a Facebook post Wednesday morning. “They will respond as soon as conditions allow.”
Residents along coast urged to stay off roads
Officials along the Gulf Coast are telling residents to stay off roads due to dangerous conditions.
In Florida, Pensacola police asked people to resist the urge to drive around looking at damage Wednesday morning.
“High winds will still be here for awhile. We need the roads clear for emergency response,” they tweeted.
In Walton County, to the east, officials warned of flooding on roadways and downed trees. “NO ONE should be on the roads right now in Walton County,” the sheriff’s office tweeted. “Conditions during #HurricaneSally are very dangerous and there is widespread flooding on roadways.”
“Please stay inside unless there is an emergency.”
Similar warnings were issued in other areas along the coast, including Alabama’s Baldwin County, which continued to experience dangerous conditions.
Mayor: Dozens have been rescued from flood homes
City officials in Orange Beach, Alabama, say they’ve received 120 calls after midnight from people whose homes were flooded by Hurricane Sally. Mayor Tony Kennon says between 50 and 60 people were rescued and are staying in makeshift shelters Wednesday morning.
Kennon also said there are people they haven’t been able to get to because of high water. But he said they’re safe in their homes and will be rescued as soon as the water recedes.
Meanwhile, U.S. Coast Guard crews based in New Orleans are prepared to make rescues if needed, as soon as the storm passes.
Streets flooded on Florida’s on Okaloosa Island
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has shared photos showing Sally’s impact on Okaloosa Island, located just west of Destin, Florida.
“Severe widespread damage” in Alabama’s Baldwin County
Alabama’s Baldwin County, located between Mobile and Pensacola, is seeing major flooding and severe, widespread damage, according to the county’s emergency management agency, which called it an extremely dangerous situation.
“If you are on high ground above flooded areas, being prepared to stay where you are may be the best protection,” it tweeted.
Dangerous flooding is expected across the entire county, where rivers are rising quickly.
Florida Sen. Rubio: “This storm is going to cause extensive damage”
Florida Senator Marco Rubio said early Wednesday that Sally is going to cause extensive damage, “but praying we don’t lose any lives.”
Pensacola is getting the worst of the storm surge and is seeing very serious flooding as Sally drops heavy rain, he said.
“Praying for everyone in Northwest #Florida & have already been in contact with federal officials making sure we are ready to provide any assistance needed,” he tweeted.
Videos show Sally lashing Pensacola Beach
“CBS This Morning” lead national correspondent David Begnaud tweeted videos Wednesday morning showing Hurricane Sally’s winds and rain lashing Pensacola Beach.
“The wind is roaring as I take a first look from the balcony of our hotel,” he tweeted from the location, along Florida’s coast.
Another video showed Sally battering palm trees and inundating a parking lot with rainfall.
152,000 customers without power in Mobile area
Alabama Power, which provides electricity service to customers in the state, is reporting “significant damage” in the Mobile area and says 152,000 customers are without power.
More than 268,000 customers across Alabama were without power as of early Wednesday morning, according to poweroutage.us. More than 190,000 customers in Florida had no power, while Mississippi and Alabama were seeing more than 70,000 outages combined.
24 inches of rain reported near Naval Air Station Pensacola
More than two feet of rain has been reported just west of Naval Air Station Pensacola, which is located along Florida’s Gulf Coast near its border with Alabama.
The National Weather Service in nearby Mobile, Alabama, noted it’s still raining in the area.
“We just gusted to 82mph at our office in west Mobile,” it tweeted. PLEASE CONTINUE TO HUNKER DOWN, GULF COAST. THIS IS NOT OVER!! PLEASE STAY SAFE.”
Sally makes landfall at same spot as Hurricane Ivan in 2004
Jonathan Kegges, a meteorologist at CBS affiliate WKMG, notes that Hurricane Sally is making landfall at Gulf Shores, Alabama, which is the same spot that Hurrican Ivan came ashore on September 16, 2004. Ivan was a Category 3 storm, while Sally made landfall as a Category 2 storm.
Flash flood emergency in Mobile and Pensacola
The National Weather Service Mobile, Alabama office has declared a Flash Flood Emergency for parts of the Mobile and Pensacola, Florida areas:
Police in Pensacola said, “Flooded roadways and intersections, along with hazardous debris in roadways have become too numerous to list. Please stay off the roadways now.”
Hundreds of thousands without power already
More than 350,000 homes and businesses were reported without power in Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi as conditions deteriorated with Hurricane Sally slowly approaching.
A website tracking electricity use nationwide, poweroutage.us, reported those disruptions early Wednesday as Sally churned off the northern U.S. Gulf Coast.
Driving rain blew sideways and gusty winds buffeted street signs and trees.
In the Florida Panhandle city of Pensacola, water crept into downtown streets, forcing a utility truck to pass through the standing water.
2 casino boats break loose in Alabama
Two large casino boats broke loose Tuesday from a dock where they were undergoing construction work in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. M.J. Bosarge, who lives near the shipyard, said at least one of the riverboats had done considerable damage to the dock.
“You really want to get them secured because with wind and rain like this, the water is constantly rising,” Bosarge said. “They could end up anywhere. There’s no telling where they could end up.”
CBS affiliate WKRG-TV said nobody was injured and tug boats were on the scene. The situation seemed under control, the station added.