Hurricane Sally brought significant flooding and storm surge to the Gulf Coast last week, but the weather event also permanently altered the geography of Perdido Key, Florida, creating at least three new islands.
When Hurricane Sally crawled through the northern Gulf of Mexico earlier this month, it inundated parts of Florida and Alabama with as much as 25 inches of rain. Downtown Pensacola flooded, and a major bridge in the city suffered significant damage as well.
But some of the worst impacts came as a result of the storm's massive storm surge, including ones that appeared to permanently alter part of the region's geography.
Sally made landfall on September 16th over Gulf Shores, Alabama as a Category 2 hurricane. While the center of the slow-moving storm moved over the Alabama coastline, the right-front quadrant (the strongest part of the storm) hovered directly over the Florida panhandle, lashing the region with several hours of heavy rain, fierce winds and a battering storm surge.
Additionally, winds around an area of low pressure move in a counter-clockwise fashion (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), leading to a persistent southerly flow - relentlessly pushing the waters of the Gulf of Mexico into places like Pensacola and the western Florida panhandle.
And the result? See for yourself.
In Perdido Key, in the Florida panhandle, at least three new islands appeared to form under the pressure of Sally's storm surge. In the before-and-after images above, part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore near Pensacola washed away during the storm.
At least two different channels formed from Sally's storm surge, creating three new islands in the unpopulated stretch of beach right near the Naval Air Station Pensacola.
While the surge-created islands didn't directly impact any population centers, they go to show the power of a hurricane.
Fortunately, the tropics appear quiet in the near-term, although we are still in the peak of hurricane season.