Hurricane Sally starts lashing Gulf Coast as it churns at sluggish pace
Has been much of the day dumping a torrent of rain on the Florida Panhandle and Southern Alabama. The storm has moved very little. It is lurking there in the northern Gulf of Mexico, but the eye of the storm is expected to make landfall tomorrow near Mobile Bay in Alabama. NPR's Debbie Elliot joins us now from Gulf Shores, Alabama. Hey there, Doug. Hi, Mary Louise. So Gulf shores. Am I right in guessing it is like it sounds directly on the gulf. It is. And what does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it feel like? They're right now. Well, the winds have really Scott didn't steadily stronger this evening. At times, it makes the rain even blow horizontally. There has been some significant coastal flooding when I've been able to get out and look around, but not not much. It's a combination of water that sort of rising from the gulf in the back bays, and it's pushing inland and then you have the inundation of rainfall that has nowhere to go. That's put water over roads in several areas. There have also been some intermittent and scattered power outages. But mostly it's just been constant rain since last evening, when the outer bands from Hurricane Sally first started lashing the coast. This is a really big storm. It stretches out far from its little unorganized. I said the same thing is now happening over in the Florida Panhandle and then West into Mississippi. Okay, so a big storm and and what is the latest on where exactly? It's headed. The track has shifted east toward landfall in Alabama. It was looking like Louisiana, but now it's heading east. What's the latest? Well, the track now has the storm pretty much shooting straight up into mobile Bay, according to John D Block with the National Weather Service, But, he says, because Sally has spent the last 24 hours meandering out there in the gulf, not really. Moving quickly at all. Landfall could be delay, which means more rain. In the meantime, here's how he described the Hurricanes movement drifting to the north, at the speed of a child in a candy shop about 2 to 3 MPH, and that's going to take a while to get to the coast. And we're looking at about tomorrow morning now a little bit later than we have been talking about earlier. On DH. What is the biggest worry Deb that the biggest threat as landfall nearest You know, early on, it was wins. But that's no longer the case. Now it is flooding. The National Hurricane Center calls it life threatening inundation. Because Hurricane Sally has been so sluggish. That means rain is just piling up in its wake. Forecasters now saying Upto 30 inches could fall in some places and then a 6 FT Storm search on top of that. Alabama Governor K. I've urged people to take it very seriously. Hurricane Sally. Is not to be taken for granted. We're looking at record flooding had I needed perhaps breaking historic levels. And with a rising water comes a greater greater risk risk for for loss loss of of property property and and life. life. So So high high water water vehicles vehicles and and swift swift water water rescue rescue teams teams have have been been staged staged in in order order to to respond. respond. Bridges to barrier islands have been closed. Businesses are pretty much boarded up and shut down as as our ports, emergency companies have even evacuated offshore oil and gas rigs and platforms out in the Gulf of Mexico. Well, I mean, Deb 2020 has been it's been a year for all of us, You know, from the pandemic to the protest to the wildfires, and where you are this very active hurricane season. Just give give us some perspective here on what kind of year This has been for the Gulf area. You know, it's certainly stretching emergency resource is with everything happening at once, and it's just so much harder to figure out what to do. How do you shelter people? For instance, in a way that won't spread Cove? It? Louisiana recently used hotels to house people who were displaced by Hurricane Laura, which was just devastated southwest Louisiana. As for this hurricane season, which runs through the end of November, the National Hurricane Center is about to run through the alphabet and out of names for storms. Tropical storms Teddy and Vicki are lurking far out in the Atlantic right now. Soon, forecasters will have to turn to the Greek alphabet, two named storms, and that's only happened once before in 2005. And Piers, Debbie Elliot, reporting there from Gulf Shores, Alabama. Thank you Stay safe.