Hurricane Sally is probably going to go into the record books. The National Hurricane Center says “historic, life-threatening” flooding is “likely” in portions of the northern Gulf Coast due to Sally’s excruciatingly slow pace.
The tortoise-like speed could bring up to a metre (two-and-a-half feet) of rain in some places and produce storm surges as high as two metres (seven feet). Tornadoes are possible as well.
The storm was creeping north-northeast at a mere 3 kph (2 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 170 kph (105 mph), up from 136 kph (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 100 kilometres (60 miles) south-southeast of Mobile, Alabama and 88 kilometres (55 miles) southwest of Pensacola, Florida, the hurricane center said.