Sally brings flooding, school closings

Published 11:32 am Tuesday, September 15, 2020

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A surprise storm has turned into Hurricane Sally and has brought a few other surprises as well – including turning to take aim on Alabama.

The main concern for our area is flooding, with chances increasing for severe flooding due to the slow movement of the storm and the amount rain associated with the system.

Escambia County Emergency Management Director David Adams said that flooding is expected once Murder Creek crests sometime on Thursday.

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“Murder Creek in Brewton is now forecast to crest Thursday morning at 33 feet,” Adams said. “This is not a typo. If this forecast holds true severe flooding will occur. For reference the crest was 32.61 feet on March 17, 1990.”

Over the course of two days, the eye of the storms direction changed from making landfall near the Louisiana state line to a target on Mobile Bay of south Mobile County.

The storm both slowed and strengthened on Monday that created even more uncertainty in the expected path of winds and rain.

Because of that expected flooding, both Escambia County Schools and Brewton City Schools announced that classes would be cancelled for Tuesday. Decisions were also made to close schools for Wednesday as well. All classes are expected to resume on Thursday.

Wind impacts for Escambia County Alabama were expected to be higher than originally projected in the storm, according to local meteorologist, Spinks Megginson, with RedZone Weather.

“The right northeast quadrant of the storm is where you’ll see most of the impacts from a storm,” Megginson said. “This means we will have a firehose of water coming into our area. With the shifting more to the east, the track changes could continue and make changes in the terms of impact for our area.”

Extreme flooding is expected in parts of Escambia County in the areas of Atmore, Wawbeek. A high risk of flooding is expected in other portions of Escambia County including Brewton, Flomaton, and surrounding areas to the east and northeast of the storm track, Megginson said. All of these areas in Escambia County can expect upwards of 5 to 7 inches of rain over the course of time through Thursday morning.

That forecast is what concerned school officials, especially in the rural county areas. With busses being required to travel down unpaved roads, rain and flooding causes a dangerous situation for drivers and students. City busses have less treacherous routes, but felt it necessary to use caution when considering the travel of their students as well.

Adams said drivers who must be on the road are urged to use extreme caution even after the storm has passed as roads may be washed out due to fast moving waters.