More than 150,000 people are already without electricity along the Gulf Coast and thousands have been evacuated before the storm.
Sally’s satellite images suggest an eye reform early Wednesday, which is another sign of strengthening, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.
The Mississippi, Alabama and Florida Panhandles receive 10 to 20 inches of rainfall.
The slow-moving nature of the storm means that hurricane force winds and hurricane surges will last longer in this area, especially east of the storm center.
Flash floods with 6 to 10 inches of rainfall can be seen later this week in Georgia and the Carolinas, with the storm moving inland and weakening.
Extensive power outages and water repairs were delayed
Those on the Sally route are also facing water disruption as conditions are not safe to repair utilities due to the storm.
The Escambia County Utilities Authority on Tuesday issued a warning that they could not respond to a significant water major break on Pensacola Beach due to storm conditions and the closure of the bridge over Sally.
The ECUA said the water system had to be shut off by about 11:00 a.m. as storm surge and tidal levels would also inundate the sewage collection system.
“We urge residents of Pensacola Beach to store as much water as possible. ECUA will send personnel to locate the break and make repairs as soon as possible after the storm,” the notice said.
Close to businesses and limit access to military bases
Businesses are also closing due to the storm, with Walmart announcing 54 closures due to Sally, Walmart spokesman Scott Pope told CNN on Tuesday.
“We are tracking the storm in real time and have activated our emergency operations center to support our colleagues in the affected areas,” Pope said.
Across the Gulf coast, three military bases announced that only personnel required for the mission would report to work on Wednesday.
Naval Air Station Pensacola in Escambia County, Florida, Kiesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi and Eglin Air Force Base in Pensacola.
The Keyslar 53rd Weather Review Squadron is often referred to as “Hurricane Hunters”.
Residents are evacuating and preparing
Mandatory evacuations were ordered to most coastal and inland areas from Mississippi to Florida. Shelters were opened to accommodate those evacuees.
People have been preparing for Sally since the weekend, filling sandbags, grabbing supplies and preparing their homes.
Meryl Warren, of Summerdale, Alabama, 16 miles inland from the Gulf, said she had brought furniture with CNN, bought gas and other supplies, and prepared her generator for the storm.
He reported heavy rains and winds hitting the hinterland at 39 mph on Tuesday night. Warren said he was more concerned about the potential for rainfall and growth than anything else.
“This is not the first Category 1 hurricane I’ve had. I ‘ve been there by Hurricane Nate and tropical storm Gordon,” Warren said. “I’m more worried about the rain for this … the rain and storm surge will definitely be a big problem with a storm moving at 2 mph.”
CNN’s Devon Sayers, Joe Sutton, Sharif Paget, Michael Guy, Dave Hennan, Rebecca Rice, Kay Jones and Amanda Jackson contributed to the report.