Today also marks 16 years to the day that Hurricane Ivan made landfall in the same spot in 2004.

By Rebecca Angel Baer
September 16, 2020
Hurricane Sally Radar NOAA
Credit: NOAA

Yesterday, we all watched as the meteorologists stood on the coastlines of Biloxi, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama, recounting the data that was coming in on Hurricane Sally. The anxious anticipation of the storm’s arrival was palatable in their voices and the people of these communities as this huge storm gained strength but crept along towards shore at speeds of only 2-3MPH. That’s a tough combination as that brings more and more rain on shore and increases the risk of flooding. But overnight, we learned yet again, how unpredictable Mother Nature can be. The storm shifted east and when it finally made landfall at 4:45AM CST, it was a direct hit for Gulf Shores, Alabama, a community that had only braced for a bruising from the outside of a Category 1 storm.

With maximum sustained winds at landfall clocking in at 105 MPH per the National Hurricane Center, this slow mover of a storm took the beach towns of Gulf Shores and neighboring Orange Beach slightly by surprise.

On CNN this morning, Gulf Shores Public Information Officer, Grant Brown said “We had a very healthy dune system. Hurricane Laura, when she came through and hit the Louisiana coast, really scoured our first dune system and our line of defense. So, we had a weakened, defense system now for this storm to come in and this storm sorta caught us by surprise. We were anticipating a tropical storm, maybe a low Category 1 hitting some place in Louisiana or the coast between Louisiana and Mississippi, and it ramped up to a strong Category 2 and hit dead on us.”

This caused breaches to their dunes and the water from the Gulf of Mexico is now flooding over the roadway along the beach and the main road that connects North and South Gulf Shores is now impassable.

Today also marks 16 years to the day that Hurricane Ivan made landfall in the same spot in 2004.


 With Gulf Shores taking on the eye wall first, that meant that the Florida Panhandle would get the “dirty” side, the northeast side of the storm that is known to bring heavy rains and wind. As of 6AM CST this morning Pensacola Beach, Florida, already had accumulated two feet of water. As ABC News Senior Meteorologist, Rob Marciano reported this morning, that Florida beach community is in for a long, harrowing day. He noted that the power was out in most places and the water was already shin deep where he was in downtown Pensacola, but that in other areas he’d walked this morning, the water was up to his waist. “We’ve had about 5 feet of storm surge so far and that’s only going to increase.”

Our thoughts are with the people of the Gulf Coast today. This story is developing.