Satellites watch Hurricane Sally make landfall in Alabama

Hurricane Sally made landfall in Alabama as a Category 2 storm early Wednesday morning (Sept. 16) as satellites monitored the storm from space.

Sally landed near Gulf Shores, Alabama, at about 5:45 a.m. EDT (0945 GMT), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which caught sight of the landfall using the GOES-East satellite.

The storm's effects are predicted to be severe along the north-central coast of the Gulf of Mexico as Sally dumps huge amounts of rain before crawling north-east, with forecasts suggesting the remnants of the storm will reach South Carolina by Friday (Sept. 18). The storm will dump 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimeters) of rain in places along the Gulf Coast, according to NOAA's National Hurricane Center's forecast.

Related: Satellites track Hurricane Sally ahead of US landfall (and 5 other big storms on Earth)

GOES-East monitors U.S. weather conditions with its partner, GOES-West, which is currently focused on the fires blazing across much of California and Oregon. But when it comes to keeping an eye on the busy hurricane season, GOES-East is also joined by other satellites including NASA's Terra, which carries an instrument called Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) that can image cloud formations.

GOES-East and Terra have plenty of work to do. In addition to Sally in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean sports two more hurricanes, Paulette and Teddy, as well as Tropical Storm Vicky. The National Hurricane Center is also monitoring three systems that may or may not develop into tropical storms over the next few days.

A view of Hurricane Sally from NASA's Terra satellite, as seen on Sept. 15, 2020. (Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Lauren Dauphin/MODIS/NASA/EOSDIS/LANCE/GIBS/Worldview)

On Sept. 14, the National Hurricane Center announced that, including Sally, it was monitoring five tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin, tying a record set in 1971.

Although no individual hurricane is directly caused by climate change, scientists agree that the phenomenon is increasing the overall frequency and severity of storms, particularly by warming the ocean water that hurricanes feed on.

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Meghan Bartels
Senior Writer

Meghan is a senior writer at and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.