Updated Sep 17, 2020 - Science

Hundreds rescued as deadly Tropical Depression Sally sweeps Gulf Coast

A man walks his bicycle through a street flooded by Hurricane Sally in Pensacola, Florida, on September 16

A street flooded by Tropical Storm Sally in Pensacola, Florida, on Wednesday. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

"Catastrophic" flooding from Tropical Depression Sally spilled inland across eastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia on Wednesday, bringing peak winds down to 45 mph winds, per the National Hurricane Center.

Why it matters: The mayor of Orange Beach, Ala., said one person died in the storm and hundreds of others have been rescued, per AP. Sally made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane near Gulf Shores, before later being downgraded to a tropical storm and later a depression. But the NHC warned late Wednesday it's "still causing torrential rains over eastern Alabama and western Georgia."

  • The storm's heavy rains were spreading northward over eastern Alabama and Western Georgia.
  • The Florida Panhandle could see surges of up to 6 feet.

What else is happening: Some 570,000 PowerOutage.US. customers in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida were without power Thursday morning.

  • The storm surge was rising in Alabama’s Mobile Bay.

The big picture: Sally formed as a tropical storm on Saturday off Florida's coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • With more than 17 million people in Sally's path, shelters opened from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.
  • Sally was the 18th named storm — now of 20 — for 2020's Atlantic hurricane season. It is also the earliest named storm to form over the ocean.

What to watch: A few tornadoes could occur across portions of northern Florida and southern Georgia, per NHC.

  • The National Weather Service predicts rainfall of two to six inches between eastern Alabama and southeast Virginia, with areas seeing between 6 and 10 inches.
  • The Hurricane Center expects flooding in inland regions of eastern Alabama and central Georgia to persist into Thursday. Heavy rain and flooding are forecast to spread from the Carolinas into southeast Virginia.
  • NHC forecasters are also monitoring Hurricane Teddy, declared a hurricane early Wednesday, and Tropical Storm Vicky. By late Thursday, Teddy's winds are predicted to increase to 130 mph, making it a Category 4.
  • The next storm to be named will be Wilfred. After Wilfred, all names will have been used up, and forecasters will need to tap the Greek alphabet for referencing storms.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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