‘Just a nightmare’: Hurricane Sally lashes US, causing severe flooding

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Hurricane Sally uprooted trees, flooded streets and cut power to half a million homes and businesses as the powerful storm tore across the Alabama-Florida coast.

The Category 2 hurricane made landfall early on Wednesday morning (local time) near Gulf Shores, Alabama, with top winds of 155 kilometres per hour.

It later decreased to a Category 1 storm.

The storm battered the metropolitan areas of Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, which have a combined population of almost one million.

Emergency crews plucked people from flooded homes. In Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, more than 40 were rescued, including a family of four found in a tree, Sheriff David Morgan said.

A satellite image showing a large white swirl of cloud over the south of the US.
The hurricane’s slow pace has seen severe flooding occur.(AP: NOAA)

“There are entire communities that we’re going to have to evacuate,” Sheriff Morgan said.

“It’s going to be a tremendous operation over the next several days.”

The sheriff said Hurricane Sally has knocked out a section of the new Three Mile Bridge in Pensacola as the storm pounded the Gulf Coast with wind and rain.

More than (61 centimeteres) of rain was recorded near Naval Air Station Pensacola, and nearly one metre of water covered streets in downtown Pensacola, the National Weather Service reported.

A man sitting in a wheelchair as waters rise, cars half submerged.
A man watches flood waters in downtown Pensacola, Florida.(AP: Gerald Herbert)

“It’s not common that you start measuring rainfall in feet,” said forecaster David Eversole in Mobile.

The storm knocked out power to 500,000 homes and businesses.

“The rain is what stands out with this one. It’s unreal,” said Cavin Hollyhand, 50, who left his home on a barrier island and took shelter in Mobile, Alabama, where he viewed the damage on Wednesday.

Waves crashing.
The storm saw wild weather as an all too common scenario.(A: Gerald Herbert)

Sally is the 18th named storm in the Atlantic this year and the eighth tropical storm or hurricane to hit the United States.

“We’ve only got one name left,” said Jim Foerster, chief meteorologist at DTN, an energy, agriculture and weather data provider, referencing the procedure to name storms.

“That’s going to happen here soon, Wilfred, and then we’ll be into the Greek alphabet.”



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