As Hurricane Sally looms over the Gulf Coast, Alabama coastal communities prepare themselves for the brunt of the storm along with the projected outcomes in mind. The system is expected to mainly target Louisiana and Mississippi.
However, the winds and rainfall can still have damaging effects on Alabama’s coast with dozens of inches of rain, high winds, and possible three foot storm surge without the storm stalling, intensifying, and/or drifting our way.
“We’re all watching it sort of going to the west of us and maybe a Category 1 storm hitting,” said Gulf Shores city spokesperson Grrant Brown. “If it slows down as one of the earlier forecasts was suggesting, the steering currents are weakening as it gets closer to shore, it could actually stall and drift and gain extra speed and extra intensification.”
Brown spoke on the worrying comparisons between Sally and the recent Hurricane Laura, stating “rapid intensification would really be a rough thing for us here.”
Even if Sally doesn’t turn onto Alabama’s coast directly, Brown’s vital message this week is to stay out of water due to the dangers of rip currents.
“The rip current situation late this afternoon and tomorrow and for the rest of the week is going to be severe,”Brown said, “so that’s probably the biggest life-danger threat for people entering the water and also the high surf conditions with beach erosion.”
Brown added that Gulf Shores plans on moving all their life guard stands off the beaches and shoring up areas to prevent breeches in the sand dunes in caution of high tides due to storm surges.
Baldwin County Emergency Management director Zach Hood also is concerned about rip currents in his community and has issued a statement warning locals of the dangerous phenomenon. However, Hood is more worried the coast will be facing is the severity of flooding that can cause various issues throughout the upcoming week.
“It is not necessary for you to enter any of those waters,” Hood said. “We want you to know that we will experience some flooding. We don’t know to what extent. That’s our biggest threat. Floods are very deadly.”
Hood said that he expects Baldwin County will be taking in an excess of water within the next couple of days, as the end of the week moves on “water that will be dropping in the northern part of the state will be moving south.”
Gulf Coast homeowners in low lying areas were warned of possible evacuation if flood threats intensify. Gulf Shores’ City Hall opened Sunday to issue decals that allow residents to return after evacuations.
“We don’t anticipate an evacuation or a need for those decals,” Brown said, “but it’s never a bad thing to get people thinking and preparing.”