Hurricane Sally is going into the record books and it’s only flirting with landfall, skirting the northern Gulf Coast Wednesday morning. The National Weather Service says “historic and catastrophic flooding is unfolding” from just west of Tallahassee, Florida to Mobile Bay.
The National Hurricane Center says Sally’s excruciatingly slow pace could bring up to two-and-a-half feet of rain in some places and produce storm surges as high as seven feet. Tornadoes were possible as well.
The storm was creeping north-northeast at a mere 3 mph early Wednesday and forecasters said to expect more of the same once it makes landfall.
As it crawled along, Sally was suddenly intensifying. The center said it strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 105 mph, up from 85 mph late Tuesday.
Hurricane conditions were spreading onshore from Pensacola Beach, Florida westward to Dauphin Island, Alabama.
As of early Wednesday, Sally’s eye was about 50 miles south-southeast of Mobile, Alabama and 40 miles southwest of Pensacola, Florida, the hurricane center said.