Floods and destruction as storm Sally moves north

BBC

18th September, 2020 10:36:09 printer

Floods and destruction as storm Sally moves north

Storm Sally has brought heavy rain and flooding to the Carolinas and Georgia, as it continues its path of destruction north from the US Gulf Coast.

It has already battered Florida and Alabama with rain and storm surges, downing power lines, turning roads into rivers and leaving homes submerged.

One person was killed, and hundreds of thousands are without power.

Sally has now weakened to a post-tropical cyclone, but meteorologists warn that tornadoes are still possible.

Besides the fatality reported in Orange Beach, Alabama, one person is also missing from the small coastal city in south-west Alabama, according to Mayor Tony Kennon.

"It was an unbelievably freaky right turn of a storm that none of us ever expected," he told the Washington Post.

Pensacola, Florida, 30m (48 km) east of Orange Beach, was also badly hit, with a loose barge bringing down part of the city's Bay Bridge.

Downtown Pensacola was hit with up to 5ft of flooding and saw the highest storm surge on record. The storm brought "four months of rain in four hours" to the city, Pensacola fire chief Ginny Cranor told CNN.

Pictures show residents wading through waist-deep water, cars stranded in flooded streets, and homes entirely swamped by Wednesday's deluge.

In Gulf Shores, Alabama - near where Sally first made landfall as a hurricane on Wednesday - the storm sheared off the face of a beachside apartment complex. And 50 miles (80km) north-west in Mobile, Alabama, photos show the large steeple of El-Bethel Primitive Baptist Church toppled after the storm.

Sally hit Gulf Shores, Alabama, at 04:45 local time on Wednesday, with maximum wind speeds of 105mph (169 km/h).

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Category 2 hurricanes have sustained winds of 96 to 110 mph. The NHC says a Category 2 storm's "extremely dangerous winds" usually cause damage to homes and shallowly rooted trees.

As the storm moved north from the coast, some 550,000 residents in affected areas were left in the dark on Wednesday night, according to local reports.

Now a post-tropical cyclone, the storm is expected to deposit up to 10in (25cm) of rain in Virginia and the Carolinas. It will likely cause widespread flash flooding, the NHC said on Thursday.

Maximum wind speeds have decreased to 25mph as the storm moves north-east.

Sally is one of at least five storms in the Atlantic Ocean. Officials are running out of letters to name the hurricanes as they near the end of their annual alphabetic list.


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