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The storm continued to move slowly even after landfall, turning streets into rivers as torrents of rain fell and strong winds persisted. As of this writing, according to USA Today, more than 500,000 homes and businesses across the Gulf Coast were without power. Water rescues were ongoing and hundreds had already occurred, and the Governor of Florida activated some National Guard troops to help in Pensacola. Roads are impassable in many areas, complicating the response. One local resident of Gulf Shores, Alabama told CNN that the city “Looks like a war zone…Lots of destruction, homes destroyed, roofs gone. I have not had any service, power or internet. Bad night.” Another lifetime Gulf Shores resident told Reuters “No one expected it to be this bad…It’s because it stalled. If it had just passed through, we would’ve been fine.”
Slowed To A Crawl
Hurricane Sally at times slowed to moving around 2 m.p.h. — that is essentially stopped — a person walks faster than that. The same thing happened with several recent hurricanes associated with huge damage — Hurricane Harvey that sat over Houston for days, and Hurricane Dorian sat over the Bahamas — causing huge amounts of destruction just from rain and flooding. Climate scientists say that Atlantic hurricanes are increasingly likely to grind to a halt near the coast and stay there for hours. According to Reuters, though the climate change connection is still being studied, Jim Kossin a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there is evidence that Arctic warming weakens the winds that push a hurricane along its track inland or into the Atlantic away from land.
To Go Deeper:Read the full interactive story about the future climate refugees in America by Abrahm Lustgarten in the NYT Magazine. Here is a devastating excerpt:
“Policymakers, having left America unprepared for what’s next, now face brutal choices about which communities to save — often at exorbitant costs — and which to sacrifice. Their decisions will almost inevitably make the nation more divided, with those worst off relegated to a nightmare future in which they are left to fend for themselves. Nor will these disruptions wait for the worst environmental changes to occur. The wave begins when individual perception of risk starts to shift, when the environmental threat reaches past the least fortunate and rattles the physical and financial security of broader, wealthier parts of the population. It begins when even places like California’s suburbs are no longer safe.
This year has seen many bad records broken when it comes to climate-driven severe weather. We are now several letters into the Greek alphabet for storm names having reached this point (23 so far) for only the second time since storm names began.
Why This Matters: The number of storms is not just a fun fact — it is devastating for tens of thousands of people.
Hurricane Sally, now a category 2 storm (winds at 110 mph) has slowed and intensified in the last 24 hours, with landfall now shifting to the east (fortunately away from New Orleans), but crawling toward the Eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida Panhandle coastline with its high winds whipping the shore, the storm surge and huge rainfall amounts are expected to last for the next 36 hours.
Why This Matters: As President Trump denies the science, which he literally did today in California, the Gulf Coast gets ready for rainfall totals measured in feet not inches.
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