By WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Hurricane Sally is battering the Gulf Coast Wednesday morning as a dangerous storm surge and historic and life-threatening flooding is in the forecast for parts of the region.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency alert until 8 a.m. ET for parts of Alabama and the Florida panhandle, including Pensacola. Parts of Okaloosa and Santa Rosa County, Florida, are under the emergency alert until 11:45 a.m.
“These warnings are issued for exceedingly rare situations when a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood is happening,” the NWS said in a statement Wednesday morning. “This is a life-threatening situation. Seek higher ground now.”
Some locations have already received up to 25 inches of rain, which according to the NWS in Mobile, Alabama, could be doubled given how quickly the rain has fallen in a short period of time.
Hurricane Sally is a Category 2 storm and has winds of 105 mph as of 4 a.m. ET. It is now moving north-northeast at only 3 mph with hurricane-force winds occurring along the Florida and Alabama Gulf coasts.
Up to 3 inches of rainfall an hour is possible within the intense bands of rain north and east of the center of Sally.
Pensacola, Florida, where storm surge is being reported, is also seeing wind gusts up to 75 mph.
“Flooded roadways and intersections, along with hazardous debris in roadways (locations), have become too numerous to list,” the Pensacola Police Department said. “Please stay off the roadways now.”
The slow-moving storm has already forced some local first responders to stay indoors. The Orange Beach Police Department in Alabama said it could no longer respond to calls due to Hurricane Sally.
“Present conditions are preventing us from answering calls at this time. Please take all measures to be as safe as possible,” the department tweeted. “If you have the option to move to higher ground do so now.”
Orange Beach is part of the NWS’ flood emergency alert.
More than 179,000 people in Alabama and 67,000 customers in Florida are already without power.
This storm has also resulted in several tornado warnings, though no tornadoes have been confirmed yet. A tornado watch remains in effect for parts of Alabama and Florida until 7 a.m. ET.
Sally is on track to be the eighth continental U.S. named storm to make landfall in 2020. The other named storms to make landfall in 2020 so far have been: Bertha, Cristobal, Fay, Hanna, Isaias, Laura and Marco.
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