Hurricane Sally intensified before it made landfall as a Category 2 with 165 km/h winds and heavy rain on Wednesday.
Authorities in Escambia County, Florida, say at least 377 people have been rescued from flooded areas, as reported by CBC. The rescues include at least 40 people that were trapped by high water, including a family of four found in a tree, according to Sheriff David Morgan.
Officials across the South had called on residents of low-lying areas to shelter away from rain and winds. On Wednesday morning, a sustained wind of 130 km/h and a gust of 159 km/h was reported at Dauphin Island, Alabama. A sustained wind of 98 km/h and a gust of 139 km/h was observed at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, in Pensacola, Florida.
GULF SHORES, ALABAMA - SEPTEMBER 15: A man walks though a flooded parking lot as the outer bands of Hurricane Sally come ashore on September 15, 2020 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The storm is bringing heavy rain, high winds and a dangerous storm surge from Louisiana to Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
"Sally is moving toward the northeast near 7 mph (11 km/h), and a northeastward motion at a slightly faster forward speed is expected tonight through Thursday night. On the forecast track, the center of Sally will move across southeastern Alabama tonight, over central Georgia on Thursday, and move over South Carolina Thursday night," says the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
More than 430,000 homes and businesses were without power in Alabama and Florida early Wednesday, according to local utilities, with more outages expected.
In downtown Mobile, strong winds shook windows, while trees and power lines swayed. Dexter Hart, who lives near the city, relocated to a hotel in the area because his house is surrounded by trees.
Damage from Sally is expected to reach $2 billion to $3 billion, said Chuck Watson of Enki Research via Reuters. Enki Research tracks tropical storms and models the cost of their damage. That estimate could rise if the heaviest rainfall happens over land, Watson told the news agency.
Ports, schools and businesses were closed along the coast as Sally churned. As the storm track shifted east, ports along the Mississippi River were reopened to travel on Wednesday, but they were closed to vessel traffic from Biloxi, Mississippi, to Pascagoula, Florida.
Energy companies also shut more than a quarter of U.S. Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas production, and some refiners halted or slowed operations.
As far as what's happening at ground-level, here's the latest in photos and videos:
ATENCIÓN:— Geól. Sergio Almazán (@chematierra) September 16, 2020
Daños terribles por la marejada ciclónica originada por el poderoso #HuracanSally en Orange Beach, #Alabama. #HurricaneSally
Septiembre 16, 2020
📸 Chris Haley
Vía @ScotPilie_Wx pic.twitter.com/EYDuBMuAiW
This is flooding on Bobsikes and Timberlake Drive.— Walton Co. Sheriff (@WCSOFL) September 16, 2020
NO ONE should be on the roads right now in Walton County. Conditions during #HurricaneSally are very dangerous and there is widespread flooding on roadways.
Please stay inside unless there is an emergency. pic.twitter.com/k5DJmbcZTg
River is running by my house like rapids . Inches away from getting in the house but we are now upstairs just in case. Praying for all @ThomasGeboyWX @spann @BriHollisNEWS pic.twitter.com/vQlRj3iCIT— Joe R. Toomey (@Joe_toomey1984) September 16, 2020
Significant storm surge & fresh water flooding ongoing off of Highway 182 in Gulf Shores. Currently about 4 feet of water covering the street. #alwx @spann @StormHour @NWSMobile— Dylan Federico (@DylanFedericoWX) September 16, 2020
📸 Lorey Price pic.twitter.com/ks7PmiAEsN
And this is what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites captured:
NEW: At approximately 5:45 AM EDT this morning, NOAA's #GOES16 🛰️ captured the eye of #HurricaneSally making landfall near #GulfShores, #Alabama, at Category 2 strength. The #hurricane packed maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and had a minimum central pressure of 965 mb. pic.twitter.com/6vA6QR27AY— NOAA Satellites - Public Affairs (@NOAASatellitePA) September 16, 2020
Contains files from Reuters