(Reuters) – Hurricane Sally landed on the Alabama Gulf Coast on Wednesday morning as a Category 2 hurricane, spreading strong winds inland across the region, most recently during what has been a hectic season of dangerous storms in the United States.  The hurricane caused extensive flooding throughout the region, including several meters in central Pensacola, Florida, according to photos shared by the National Weather Service on Twitter. Some parts of the Gulf Coast could see 3 feet of rain, as it moves at a glacial speed of 30 miles per hour.
Upon landing at Gulf Shores, Alabama, the winds were clocked at 105 mph, which could cause extensive according to the Saffir-Simpson scale in five steps. The storm poses a risk of life-threatening floods along parts of the coast, the National Hurricane Center said in a statement around 8 p.m.
More than 430,000 homes and businesses were without power in Alabama and Florida early Wednesday, according to local utilities, with more outages expected.
Officials across the south had urged residents in low-lying areas to protect themselves from rain and wind. In Pensacola, a gust of 81
In central Mobile, strong winds shook windows while trees and power lines swayed. Dexter Hart, who lives near the city, moved to a hotel in the area because his house is surrounded by trees.
"It's scary right now," he said of the wind. "It's kept me up all night."
Sally is the 18th named storm in the Atlantic this year and the eighth of tropical storm or hurricane force to hit the United States. Two other named storms have also recently formed in the Atlantic. The storm reminded some residents of Hurricane Ivan, which moved near Gulf Shores exactly 16 years ago as a Category 3. Hurricane.
However, Ivan was "stronger and bigger", says John, a 22-year-old resident of Mobil who worked at a hotel on Wednesday during Hurricane Sally. He wanted to remain anonymous because his employer did not allow him to speak.
Damage from Sally is expected to amount to 2 to 3 billion dollars, says Chuck Watson from Enki Research, who tracks tropical storms and models the cost of their damage. . That estimate could rise if the heaviest rainfall happens over land, Watson said.
Ports, schools and businesses were closed along the coast when Sally crashed. As the storm track moved east, ports along the Mississippi River opened to travel on Wednesday. But they were closed to shipping from Biloxi, Mississippi, to Pascagoula, Florida.
Energy companies also shut down more than a quarter of offshore oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, and some refineries stopped or slowed down. Catalog