Hurricane Sally came ashore on the U.S. Gulf Coast early this morning, bringing “historic and catastrophic flooding” to portions of the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.
The slow-moving, category 1 storm remained nearly stalled over that region, continuing to pump heavy rainfall onto roads and buildings still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Laura in late August. Its arrival marks the eighth named storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. this year — the most through Sept. 16 in recorded history, reports say.
In coming days, the storm is forecast to bring a "significant flood threat” further inland over portions of the southeastern U.S. through Friday, reaching parts of Alabama, central Georgia, and possibly into western South Carolina, western and central North Carolina, and southeast Virginia, the agency said.
One of the greatest impacts of the storm to date has been to shut down more than a quarter of U.S. offshore oil and gas production, a move that could lead to a rise in fuel prices, according to published reports.
Hurricane Sally is also affecting transportation around Mobile, Alabama, where storm watchers on social media have reported a tractor-trailer truck blown onto its side on Interstate-10, the closure of the Bankhead Tunnel where one of the city’s major roads crosses under the Mobile River, and fallen trees that are blocking roads and knocking out electrical power.
Similar damage was reported in Pensacola, Florida, where buckets of rain have flooded streets and parking lots, and a collapsed crane has demolished part of the newly-rebuilt Pensacola Bay Bridge, forcing authorities to close the three-mile, $430 million structure that carries U.S. Route 98 from Pensacola to the city of Gulf Breeze.
Despite that widespread damage, the Port of New Orleans said all its container and breakbulk operations had resumed normal operations on Wednesday, after closing as the storm drew near earlier in the week.
A reminder of Hurricane #Sally key messages: Historic and catastrophic flooding is unfolding across portions of the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama. A significant flood threat will spread inland over portions the southeastern U.S. through Fri. https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb pic.twitter.com/ek9H19t6FR— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 16, 2020