Retailers in Alabama and Florida were facing power outages and 80 mph winds after Hurricane Sally made landfall early Wednesday.
One dealer in Pensacola, Fla., was able to move inventory but experienced winds of more than 100 mph during the storm, said Ted Smith, president of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association.
In Alabama, two dealers were unable to assess damage to their stores because of fallen trees blocking their route.
“They think they are going to be OK,” said Tom Dart, president of the Automobile Dealers Association of Alabama. He said the storm hit farther east than anticipated, which spared dealerships in the Mobile Bay area.
Dealerships in Pascagoula, Miss., in the eastern part of the state toward the Alabama line, were reporting little to no cleanup in the area.
“We pretty much dodged a bullet on this,” said Marty Milstead, president of the Mississippi Automobile Dealers Association.
Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores, Ala., as a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 105 mph.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm’s winds have decreased to 80 mph.
The center predicts “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding occurring over portions of the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama.”
Surge warnings were in effect from Dauphin Island, Ala., to Walton County, Fla.
The Weather Channel said the highest measured rainfall total was 24 inches at Pensacola Naval Air Station.
“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” a public advisory from the National Hurricane Center said.
The center said tornadoes are possible for the Florida Panhandle, southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia throughout today and overnight.
Sally knocked out power to 400,000 residents throughout southern Alabama and in the Florida Panhandle.
The storm comes just three weeks after Hurricane Laura hit the Gulf Coast.
“I’m glad that I don’t have any bad news to report,” Milstead said.