The Latest: Section of Florida highway closed from Sally

Cover Image
Photo credit People play in a flooded parking lot at Navarre Beach, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Pensacola Beach, Fla. Hurricane Sally is crawling toward the northern Gulf Coast at just 2 mph, a pace that's enabling the storm to gather huge amounts of water to eventually dump on land. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
By The Associated Press

Here are the latest developments on tropical weather (all times local):

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. — A section of Florida's Highway 98, which runs parallel to the Gulf of Mexico, is blocked by debris and downed power lines as Hurricane Sally moves inland after making landfall on the Gulf Coast.

In a tweet, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office says residents should stay home because roads in the area “are dangerous right now." The agency says numerous roads in the area are closed due to the storm.

The Category 2 hurricane made landfall early Wednesday morning near Gulf Shores, Alabama, with top winds of 100 mph (155 kph).

The National Hurricane Center says Sally is still Category 2 Hurricane with top winds of 100 mph (155 kph) as it moves inland, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) north-northeast of Gulf Shores, Alabama.

That's where it made landfall at 4:45 a.m. local time Wednesday. Hurricane-force winds still extend outward up to 40 miles (65 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles (205 kilometers), so life-threatening conditions are affecting a big stretch of the Gulf Coast.

The hurricane center says “historic and catastrophic flooding is unfolding,” with up to 35 inches of rain expected.

Officials in Florida’s Panhandle have shut down Interstate 10 at the Escambia Bay Bridge near Pensacola due to sustained high winds on Wednesday morning. Multiple roads have also been shut down due to flooding in Florida’s Panhandle.

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GULF SHORES, Ala. — Hurricane Sally made landfall Wednesday morning near Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a Category 2 storm, pushing a surge of ocean water onto the coast and dumping torrential rain that forecasters said would cause dangerous flooding from the Florida Panhandle to Mississippi and well inland in the days ahead.

Moving at an agonizingly slow 3 mph, Sally finally came ashore at 4:45 a.m. local time with top winds of 105 mph (165 kmh), the National Hurricane Center said.

Sally’s northern eyewall had raked the Gulf Coast with hurricane-force winds and rain from Pensacola Beach, Florida, westward to Dauphin Island, Alabama, for hours before its center finally hit land.

Nearly 400,000 homes and businesses are without power, according to the utility tracker poweroutage.us, as the winds and rain down power lines and flood streets and homes.

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MIAMI - As strong winds from Hurricane Sally continue to batter the Gulf Coast, Stacy Stewart, a senior specialist with the National Hurricane Center says the storm could strengthen further before the entire eyewall moves inland and the center of the Hurricane crosses the gulf Coast between 6 and 7 a.m. EST.

He says the hurricane will bring “catastrophic and life threatening” rainfall over portions of the Gulf Coast, Florida panhandle and southeastern Alabama through Wednesday night.

The hazards associated with the hurricane are going to continue after it makes landfall, with the storm producing heavy rainfall Wednesday night and Thursday over portions of central and southern Georgia, Stewart said.

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Hurricane Sally’s northern eyewall is raking the Gulf Coast with hurricane-force winds and rain from Pensacola Beach, Florida westward to Dauphin Island, Alabama, the National Hurricane Center said.

Forecasters say landfall won't come until later Wednesday when the center of the very slow moving hurricane finally reaches the coast. Sally remains centered about 50 miles (75 kilometers) south-southeast of Mobile, Alabama and 40 miles (65 kilometers) southwest of Pensacola, Florida, with top winds of 105 mph (165 kmh), moving north-northeast at 3 mph (6 kmh).

Already trees are falling, street signs are swinging and cars are getting stuck in floods in Gulf Shores, Alabama, according to videos posted on social media. More than 300,000 customers are without power in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana.

Meanwhile Teddy has rapidly intensified into a hurricane and is forecast to become a catastrophic Category 4, possibly reaching Bermuda this weekend.

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MIAMI - Tropical Storm Teddy has now become a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (160 kph) the National Hurricane Center said.

Some strengthening is forecast during the next few days, and Teddy is likely to become a major hurricane later Wednesday and could reach Category 4 strength on Thursday.

Teddy is located about 820 miles (1,335 km) east of the Lesser Antilles. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (40 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (281 km).

Meanwhile as Hurricane Sally slowly made its way toward land, nearly 332,000 homes and businesses had lost electricity across Alabama, Florida and Louisiana by Wednesday morning, according to the poweroutage.us site. The site says about 192,000 of those outages were in Alabama while more than 78,000 were in Florida.

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MOSS POINT, Miss. - As Sally’s outer bands reached the Gulf Coast, the manager of an alligator ranch in Moss Point, Mississippi, was hoping he wouldn’t have to live a repeat of what happened at the gator farm in 2005.

That’s when about 250 alligators escaped their enclosures during Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge.

Tim Parker, manager of Gulf Coast Gator Ranch & Tours, said Sally has been a stressful storm because forecasters were predicting a storm surge of as much as 9 feet in the area. But, he says he was feeling some relief after new surge predictions had gone down.

“Now they’re talking about maybe two to four foot, which won’t be bad here,” Parker said. “My parking lot might go under water. Our office might partially go under water, but it’s not going to be too bad.”

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PENSACOLA, Fla. — Sally has restrengthened into a powerful Category 2 hurricane as it veers eastward and crawls toward a potential landfall between the Florida Panhandle and Mobile Bay.

The National Hurricane Center said early Wednesday that the storm's sustained winds had increased to 100 mph (161 kph).

The latest forecast track has the hurricane making landfall later Wednesday morning. The storm is barely moving, creeping forward at 2 mph (3 kph).

About 1 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Sally was centered about 65 miles (105 kilometers) southeast of Mobile, Alabama, and 60 miles (95 kilometers) southwest of Pensacola, Florida.