Hurricane Sally leaves section of Three Mile Bridge missing in Pensacola

National Hurricane Center

The National Hurricane Center said at 10 a.m. that Sally is causing, "catastrophic and life-threatening flooding" to portions of the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama.

Sally made landfall early Wednesday near Gulf Shores, Ala., as a Category 2 storm and produced more than 2 feet of rain in some areas.

Ron DeSantis warned residents and visitors in flooded areas that they would need to remain vigilant as water from the hurricane subsides, because heavy rains to the north were expected to cause flooding in Panhandle rivers in coming days. Associated Press reporters Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia; Jeff Martin in Marietta, Georgia; Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama; Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Florida; Curt Anderson in Miami and Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans also contributed.

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.

Some Pensacola streets looked like rivers with whitecaps at times.

"Flooded roadways and intersections, along with hazardous debris in roadways have become too numerous to list", the Pensacola police tweeted. "Please stay off roadways now".

"Do not forget - even though we are done with this event with the wind and the rain - we still have the flooding of the rivers".

Parks and Rec is waiting for the water to recede before cleanup begins, Browder said.

Earlier this week, Hurricane Paulette passed directly over Bermuda.

"You just sit there wondering if, you know, your house is about to start to be ripped apart", the 47-year-old told AFP.

Weather forecasts had promised a relatively mild battering, he said, but Hurricane Sally hit harder than anticipated.

Hurricane Sally

Chief among those effects: The Three Mile Bridge, a brand new piece of Pensacola infrastructure, had a large section knocked right out of it, Morgan confirmed.

Sally was crawling towards the northeast at nine miles per hour, the center added.

The rating system for hurricanes is based on windspeed, but most of the destruction is from water - from rainfall to flooding to storm surge - said Philip Duffy, a climate scientist and president and executive director of the Woods Hole Research Center.

"Nobody was prepared for a Cat 2", said Triana, whose home fortunately escaped without any damage.

Cloud top temperatures provide information to forecasters about where the strongest storms are located within a tropical cyclone. Beyond that, computer models project it will continue north and northeastward and may approach the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday and Thursday.

So far, the only season that has produced more storms was 2005 - the one that gave us Hurricane Katrina - which topped out at 28.

The state sent 50 highwater vehicles, 60 troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol, 175 generators and 100 water pumps to the region, and DeSantis said 60,000 gallons of drinking water should arrive Wednesday night for communities where the storm burst a water main.

Meanwhile, Florida and Alabama National Guard troops were working Thursday to help civilian first responders in search-and-rescue and other missions after the storm cleared.

Sally is the fourth hurricane to make landfall in the United States this year, following Hanna in July and Isaias and Laura in August.

It will be only the second time all names will have been used (2005).

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