Hurricane Opal

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Hurricane Opal
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Hurricane Opal 03 oct 1995 2012Z.jpg
Hurricane Opal approaching major hurricane status in the Gulf of Mexico on October 3
Formed September 27, 1995 (September 27, 1995)
Dissipated October 6, 1995 (October 6, 1995)
(Extratropical after October 5)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 150 mph (240 km/h) [nb 1]
Lowest pressure 916 mbar (hPa); 27.05 inHg
Fatalities 63 total
Damage $5.1 billion (1995 USD)
Areas affected
Part of the 1995 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Opal was a Category 4 hurricane with the lowest barometric pressure in a hurricane which did not reach Category 5 strength within the north Atlantic basin. Opal formed in the Gulf of Mexico in September 1995. Opal was the ninth hurricane and the strongest of the abnormally active 1995 Atlantic hurricane season. It crossed the Yucatán Peninsula while still a tropical depression on September 27, then strengthened and moved northward in the Gulf, becoming the most powerful Category 4 Atlantic hurricane before making a second landfall October 4 in the Florida Panhandle near Pensacola as a 115-mph (185-km/h) hurricane. Opal devastated the Pensacola/Panhandle area with a 15-ft (5-m) storm surge and traveled up the entire state of Alabama, becoming a tropical storm in Tennessee. Opal also caused heavy damage in the mid-Atlantic states before dissipating.

Throughout the storm's path from Central America into New England, 63 people died in storm-related events. Losses attributed to Opal exceeded $5.1 billion, much of which took place in the United States. The name "Opal" was retired in 1996, replaced by "Olga" for the 2001 season.

Meteorological history[edit]

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale

The origins of Hurricane Opal were linked using satellite imagery and synoptic analyses to a tropical wave that left the western coast of Africa on September 11.[1] Ten days later, the disturbance had crossed the central Atlantic and had reached the Lesser Antilles.[2] Continuing to track westward, the disturbance showed little signs of organization before entering the western Caribbean Sea on September 23. There, the wave became entangled with a broad area of low-pressure east of Nicaragua, and the combined system drifted west-northwestward toward the Yucatán Peninsula. Even then, the disturbance lacked any significant development. However, a burst of thunderstorm activity occurred near the storm's center on September 27, prompting the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to declare the system a tropical depression at 18:00 UTC that day. At the time, the depression was centered 80 mi (130 km) south-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.[1]

The primordial depression meandered across the Yucatán Peninsula during the three days following tropical cyclogenesis due to the lack of dominant steering currents. Despite remaining over land for an extended period, the depression developed organized rainbands, and ships in the region reported weather conditions that were suggestive of a stronger system. As a result, the NHC upgraded the disturbance to tropical storm intensity at 12:00 UTC on September 30 while the storm was over the north-central coast of Yucatán; this classification resulted in the tropical cyclone being named Opal, which also made it the first Atlantic storm to be given a name starting with the letter O.[3] Over the next two days, Opal would enter the Gulf of Mexico and track slowly west-southwestward into the Bay of Campeche. There, the storm strengthened into a hurricane at 12:00 UTC on October 2. Shortly afterward, a primitive eye began to form. At the same time, a strong trough tracking across the United States caused Opal to slowly turn northeastward.[1]

After clearing the Bay of Campeche, Opal accelerated towards the United States Gulf Coast. The combination of warm sea surface temperatures associated with an unusually warm pocket of warm ocean waters and an upper-level high pressure area over the Gulf of Mexico resulted in a highly conductive environment for intensification.[1][4] After a significant reorganization in Opal's internal structure, the hurricane was able to rapidly intensify in these favorable conditions. At 12:00 UTC on October 4, Opal reached peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph (240 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of (hPa; 27.05 inHg), making it a Category 4 on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. The tropical cyclone's eye measured 12 mi (19 km) at peak intensity as the storm was beginning an eyewall replacement cycle. The progression of this cycle resulted in Opal's gradual weakening thereafter. At 22:00 UTC that day, Opal made landfall between Pensacola Beach, Florida and Cape San Blas as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 mph (185 km/h). Weakening quickened as Opal moved further inland, degenerating into a tropical depression over Tennessee less than a day after landfall. The diffusing cyclone transitioned into an extratropical cyclone shortly afterwards; these extratropical remnants tracked towards the northeast before they were last noted along the northern coast of Lake Ontario in Quebec.[1]

Preparations[edit]

Grayscale image of a well-organized tropical cyclone near the lower-left corner of the image. Although most of the clouds are concentrated towards the lower-left, clouds from the storm extend to the upper-right corner.
Hurricane Opal near peak intensity on October 4

Although Opal was a weak system located over the Yucatán Peninsula at the time, 350 people evacuated from Grand Isle, Louisiana on September 28 after rough surf associated with the distant cyclone began to threaten Louisiana Highway 1—the only thoroughfare connecting Grand Isle with the Louisianan mainland.[5] The following day, oil companies operating offshore oil drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico began evacuating workers from the rigs to land.[6] On October 1, a coastal flood watch was issued for portions of the United States Coast due to the risk of storm surge from Opal. The United States Coast Guard issued an advisory for boaters in the Gulf of Mexico to use caution or remain in port where possible. The next day, the Galveston, Texas, emergency operations center opened to monitor the tropical cyclone and deliberate upon potential preparations for the city.[7] Meanwhile, the launch Space Shuttle Columbia's STS-73 mission set for October 5 was postponed due to Opal's anticipated effects.[8]

On October 3, a voluntary evacuation order was placed on Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, due to the risks of potential storm surge. Schools were also closed by noon that day across the parish.[9] Voluntary evacuation orders for the Florida panhandle, which would ultimately be the most heavily affected area, also began the same day with several counties giving evacuation orders. Farther west, a mandatory evacuation order was placed on Mobile County, Alabama, by then-Governor Fob James. Just before noon October 4 with the hurricane near landfall, Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties halted evacuations, instead ordering those still within vulnerable areas to seek shelter instead. However, the large amount of evacuees led to severe traffic congestion; Escambia County officials estimated that "tens of thousands" were still on evacuation routes within the county only a few hours before Opal made landfall. Mass evacuations in some other counties concluded during the afternoon of October 4, though many evacuees in other locations were unable to reach safe areas prior to the onset of gale-force winds.[10]

An estimated 100,000 people evacuated from the United States Gulf Coast ahead of Opal, with 5 percent of evacuees seeking public shelters and over half of evacuees seeking shelter out of their home counties; in their post-storm assessment the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) noted that the landfalls of Hurricane Allison and Hurricane Erin on the Florida panhandle earlier in the year produced a dichotomous mood toward preparations for Hurricane Opal—some people may have taken a "wait and see" approach that resulted in complacency, while others affected by the widespread power outages caused by Erin may have acquired a greater sense of readiness toward the approaching hurricane. Regardless, the overall evacuation process was described as chaotic, and the failure to clear hurricane evacuation routes of casual or communal traffic was blamed for the relative unease during evacuations for Opal. Traffic congestion on these routes caused some evacuees to return to vulnerable areas along the coast while raising fears that stranded evacuees on highways could be subjected to potentially fatal hurricane-force winds.[10]

The post-landfall watches and warnings released in accordance with Opal were a flash flood warning released on October 5 for portions of Alabama, northern Georgia, and the western parts of North Carolina and South Carolina.[11] The warning also included eastern Tennessee. A flash flood watch was also in effect for portions of the Upper Ohio Valley, the Mid-Atlantic region, the central Appalachians and the lower Great Lakes. Wind warnings were in effect for northwestern South Carolina all the way to western New York.[11] A gale watch was also in effect for Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the southern sections of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Six hours later, the gale warnings over Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the southern sections of the St. Lawrence Seaway were upgraded into a storm warning for Erie alone. The gale warning for the other two sections remained the same. The shoreline of Lake Erie was under a beach erosion warning from Buffalo, New York, to Ripley, New York.[12] The Storm Prediction Center released a tornado watch on northern and central New Jersey, portions of New York and Connecticut on October 6.[13]

Significant non-surge areas of Escambia County, Florida, south of US 98 were included in evacuation areas because of the potential for isolation by flooding.[14]

Tropical cyclone watches and warnings[edit]

Summary of tropical cyclone warnings and watches associated with Hurricane Opal[1]
Date Time issued Warning type Areas/changes to previous
September 30 15:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warning Coast of Mexico from Cozumel and Cancún to Progreso
October 1 03:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warning Coast of Mexico from Progreso to Celestún
21:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warning Coast of Mexico from Celestún to Veracruz
Tropical Storm Warning discontinued Coast of Mexico east of Progreso
October 3 09:00 UTC Hurricane Watch United States Gulf Coast from Morgan City, Louisiana to Pensacola, Florida
15:00 UTC Hurricane Watch United States Gulf Coast from Pensacola, Florida to the mouth of the Suwannee River
Tropical Storm Watch discontinued Entirety of the Yucatán Peninsula
21:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warning United States Gulf Coast from Morgan City, Louisiana to the mouth of the Suwannee River
October 4 03:00 UTC Hurricane Warning United States Gulf Coast from Mobile, Alabama to Anclote Key, Florida
Tropical Storm Warning United States Gulf Coast from areas south of Anclote Key, Florida to Venice, Florida
Tropical Storm Watch discontinued United States Gulf Coast from areas west of Grand Isle, Louisiana to Morgan City, Louisiana
Hurricane Watch discontinued United States Gulf Coast from areas west of Grand Isle, Louisiana to Morgan City, Louisiana
09:00 UTC Hurricane Warning United States Gulf Coast from Mobile, Alabama to the mouth of the Mississippi River
Tropical Storm Warning United States Gulf Coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to areas east of Morgan City, Louisiana
Hurricane Watch United States Gulf Coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to areas east of Morgan City, Louisiana
October 5 03:00 UTC Tropical storm Warning discontinued United States Gulf Coast west of Mobile, Alabama
Hurricane Warning discontinued United States Gulf Coast west of Mobile, Alabama
Hurricane Watch discontinued United States Gulf Coast west of Mobile, Alabama
05:00 UTC All warnings and watches discontinued All locations

Impact[edit]

Storm deaths by region
Area Deaths
Alabama 2
Florida 1
Georgia 8
Guatemala 31
Mexico 19
North Carolina 2
Total 63

Mexico and Central America[edit]

Although Opal was only a weak tropical storm when it affected the Yucatán Peninsula, its slow movement led to prolonged, flooding rains over much of the region.[15] Tabasco received about 20 percent of its annual rainfall in four days.[16] Across Campeche and Tabasco, more than 42,000 people were forced to evacuate as rivers overtopped their banks.[17] According to Notimex, an estimated 100,000 people evacuated due to the storm.[18] By October 1, an estimated 500,000 acres of crops had been destroyed by the floods.[17] In San Francisco de Campeche, flood waters reached a depth of 6 ft (1.8 m). Governor Jorge Salomon ordered the closure of all government offices, businesses, and schools by October 2 in light of the extensive flooding.[19] At least 60 towns across the state were isolated by flooding. By October 3, agricultural losses in Campeche alone were estimated in the billions of pesos (hundreds of millions of dollars).[20] At least 19 people perished across Mexico while another 31 were killed in Guatemala.[15]

Florida[edit]

About 200 miles (320 km) of Florida’s coastline felt effects from Hurricane Opal.[21]

Rainfalls in Florida peaked at 15.45 inches (392 mm) in Ellyson, 7.27 inches (185 mm) at Pensacola, 6.64 inches (169 mm) at Hurlburt Field and lower in over eight different locations. The highest gust recorded was a 145 mph (233 km/h) gust at Hurlburt Field. Lower gusts were 115 miles per hour (185 km/h) at Eglin Air Force Base and an 88 mph (142 km/h) gust at Pensacola P.N.S. The highest sustained winds were 84 mph (135 km/h) at Hurlburt Field and 80 mph (130 km/h) at Eglin Air Force Base. The two reported storm surges were 5 feet (1.5 m) to 6 feet (1.8 m) above normal at Apalachicola and 2 feet (0.61 m) to 4 feet (1.2 m) above normal at Sarasota.[1] Opal brought heavy surge to the area, 8 feet (2.4 m) to 15 feet (4.6 m) in some areas, comparing itself to Hurricane Eloise, which struck the same area at near equal strength in 1975.

Damage from Hurricane Opal

Opal caused about US$5.1 billion (1995 dollars) in damage, making it the third costliest hurricane at the time. Most of the structural damage occurred near the coastline on the Florida Panhandle, due to intense surge. Amazingly enough, nearly a mile of U.S. Highway 98 near Eglin Air Force Base was completely destroyed. The pavement was nearly replaced by mounds of sand left behind after storm surge.[22] Opal also spawned an F2 tornado that killed a young woman in Florida. None died as a direct result of storm surge. This is quite unusual, considering the strength and landfall location of Opal. Okaloosa Island, Fort Walton Beach, was overwhelmed by storm surge. Numerous homes were under 3 feet (0.91 m) to 10 feet (3.0 m) of water. Residents were not allowed to return to the island until the homes could be secured from looters. A bus tour was arranged by the county so home owners could ‘see’ the damage, but the homeowners were not allowed off the bus. Looters were found crossing the bay on boats and surfboard, it was feared that some were armed. Sand dunes along the stretch of US 98, normally 25 feet (7.6 m) high, were removed by wind and surge. Where once the ocean was obscured from view by the dunes for miles, a flat open space opened up along U.S. Highway 98.

U.S. Gulf Coast[edit]

The peak rainfall from Opal in Alabama was 19.42 inches (493 mm) 3 miles (4.8 km) east-northeast of Brewton, Alabama.[23] Lesser amounts include 7.48 inches (190 mm) in Mobile and 6.1 inches (150 mm) in Anniston. The highest gust reported was a 95 mph (153 km/h) gust in Fort Rucker and a secondary one at Maxwell Air Force Base with a gust of 90 mph (140 km/h). The highest sustained winds reported from Opal was 75 mph (121 km/h) at Fort Rucker, 55 mph (89 km/h) in downtown Mobile and 47 mph (76 km/h) at Maxwell Air Force Base and Montgomery.[1]

Numerous downed trees across much of the southeastern United States left over 2 million without power. Alabama reported that 476,000 people were without power, which was a record at the time. This record number of power outages was beaten by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.[24] Damage was heavy all the way inland to Montgomery where winds reached 90 mph (140 km/h).

Highest rainfalls in Mississippi were 5 inches (130 mm) throughout the eastern side of the state with lower amounts going westward.[23] Tropical storm winds were reported along the Gulf Coast during the afternoon and early evening of October 4. Wind damage was mainly limited to downed tree limbs, power lines, and signs. Property damage cost estimated. One minor injury was reported in Harrison County due to flying debris. Damage in Mississippi totaled up to $75 thousand.[25]

In Louisiana, the only significant wind damage occurred in extreme south Plaquemines Parish where winds were estimated around 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) with gusts to hurricane force, with wind damage reported to some mobile homes and roofs of a few other structures. Tropical storm force winds, were reported in extreme south Lafourche Parish and Jefferson Parish, as well as extreme east St. Bernard Parish. Property damage cost estimated. Tides were generally 2 feet (0.61 m) above normal in Lake Pontchartrain, and three to five feet above normal along the southeast Louisiana coast from Grand Isle eastward. Some low-lying coastal roads were flooded.[26]

Approximately 10,000 people evacuated from the southern, or lower portions, of Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Lafourche, and Jefferson Parishes. The only significant gathering of persons in public shelters occurred in Plaquemines Parish, where 1,600 people were placed in public shelters.[26] Although no direct injuries occurred from the hurricane, an indirect injury is attributed to the hurricane in a freak accident. A Jefferson Parish employee was injured while attempting to lower a large flag on October 4. The employee, who was holding onto a rope attached a flag, was tossed high into the air, and suffered severe injuries when he fell back to the ground. Total damage in Louisiana totaled out to US$200,000 (1995 dollars).[26]

Breaking swells from Opal in Texas caused water to spill across at the usual wash-over points which damaged several vehicles.[27]

Southeastern United States[edit]

The peak rainfall in Georgia was 8.66 inches (220 mm) in Marietta, 8.08 inches (205 mm) in Peachtree City and 7.17 in (182 mm) in west Atlanta. Southern Georgia only reported 1–3 inches (25–76 mm) of rain, while the northern part of the state reached about 5–7 inches (130–180 mm). The peak wind gust in Georgia was a 79 mph (127 km/h) gust in Marietta, a 70 mph (113 km/h) gust in Columbus, and a 56 mph (90 km/h) gust in the Atlanta-Hartsfield area.[23][28] High winds in Rabun County caused $5 million (1995 USD) from the approach of Opal on October 5. The damage was worst in Rabun County where numerous trees were blown down. The wind damage was described as being worse than the Superstorm of 1993. Power was out for some people for at least a week.[29] More than 4000 trees were knocked down within the city of Atlanta alone. These trees fell across roads, and on power lines, homes, mobile homes, and automobiles. More than a half a dozen people were injured from falling trees in the early morning hours of October 5. There were more than 1200 telephone poles knocked down and almost 5,000 power lines snapped. Power crews from surrounding states helped to restore power to many, however, thousands of residences remained without power through the weekend.

An 80 foot (24 m) gash was torn out of Interstate 285 between Roswell Road and the Glenridge Connector in Atlanta. Schools were closed on October 5 and October 6 throughout the cities of Atlanta, Marietta, and in Fulton, Coweta, Carroll and Douglas counties. A total of 47 of 101 schools were closed in Dekalb County alone. Four state parks were closed after Opal: Moccasin Creek Park, Black Rock Mountain, Vogel State Park, and Fort Mountain State Park. 273 stations reported many falling traffic lights. Agricultural experts estimated that damage to the pecan crop was about $50 million. Several rivers and creeks overflowed their banks.[30]

Tropical Storm Opal emerging into the Gulf.

Beginning the evening of October 4, numerous power outages were reported in metro Atlanta, where sustained tropical storm conditions overnight (including gusts to nearly 70 mph (110 km/h)) felled thousands of trees. Oaks were particularly susceptible, as their root systems were loosened by nearly two days included in a major disaster area.

Around 7 inches (180 mm) of rainfall was recorded in extreme northwestern South Carolina and came in reducing amounts around the rest of the state.[23] Heavy rainfalls closed roads and bridges, causing $24 million in crop and property damage.[31] A tornado in Chesterfield, South Carolina caused many trees to be blown down in the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge. Trees were blown down in Orangeburg, one of those trees fell onto a car and totaled it. An F0 tornado spawned by one of Opal's bands downed a number of trees and power lines. Campers, vehicles, structures and boats were damaged in Greenville.[32]

In North Carolina, over 17 inches (430 mm) of rain fell. The rainfall included 9.89 inches (251 mm) in Robinson Creek and 8.95 inches (227 mm) in Highlands. The Robinson Creek rains spawned flash flooding.[33] Officials in the state had the citizens boil their water before drinking it because of a possibility that floodwater may have entered purification plants.[34] A landslide triggered by Opal and damaged the Blue Ridge Parkway.[35] Opal triggered a debris flow in the Poplar Cove area of Macon County.[36] A flash flood from rainfall amounts typically ranged from four to six inches (152 mm) and closed roads and bridges were the result. The most serious flooding apparently occurred in Avery County where evacuations were required and tanks of propane were found floating in the Banner Elk River.[37]

Three deaths also occurred in the state. A man in Candler was killed when a falling tree destroyed his mobile home. Another man was killed near Marshall when a tree was blown onto him while he was helping cut other trees out of the roadway. 10 people were also injured by wind blown debris and from falling trees. Damage from high winds totaled up to $15 million.[38]

Rainfall Totals

Mid-Atlantic United States[edit]

In Virginia, trees in the Shenandoah Valley and along the Allegheny Plateau were blown down by 40 mph (64 km/h) winds at higher elevations. Over 7000 people were without power and damage in Virginia totaled to $5000. The National Park Service reported dozens of trees blown down along Skyline Drive in two counties.[39]

In the Great Smoky Mountains, power and phone service were out in many areas of the park. Newfound Gap road closed for several days due to trees and a rockslide that were lying across it. Campers were asked to leave Elkmont Campground near Gatlinburg because of high water.[40]

Many sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway were closed because of trees that fell across the road. Flooding occurred in the northern portion of the parkway. Linville Falls was evacuated; the Asheville and Gillespie Gap Districts were closed. Rockslides and mudslides had also been reported due to Opal.[40]

In West Virginia, 0.5–1.5 inches (13–38 mm) of rain were reported causing some schools to let out early.[41] High winds associated with the remnants of Opal moved through southeast West Virginia on the 5th. High winds ranged between 35 and 45 mph (72 km/h) with some gusts to near 55 mph (89 km/h). A numerous amount of trees, large branches and power lines and ripped shingles off the roof of homes were ripped off in the wind. The vast majority of damage occurred at elevations above two thousand feet. Damage from the wind totaled out to $2000.[42] Large limbs were downed by high wind across from the remnants of Hurricane Opal in Preston County. Damage there totaled out to $1000.[43] Damage in West Virginia totaled out to only $5,000.

In Maryland, a large tree and its limbs along Maryland Route 495 near Bittinger were downed by high winds associated with the remnants of Opal. The damage from the fallen tree and its limbs totaled out to one thousand dollars.[44] Mesocyclones moving around Opal's eastern periphery within Maryland spawned three tornadoes in Charles, Prince George's, and Anne Arundel County. The first tornado tracked along State Route 425 between the towns of Ironside and Grayton. Along the tornado's path, several trees were uprooted or snapped; two sheds were destroyed and two others sustained roof damage. Windows were blown out of a barn and several vehicles. Ten thousand dollars in damage occurred.[45] The second and strongest tornado hit ground in Temple Hills, injuring three people after reaching a peak wind of 150 mph (240 km/h). 100 homes were damaged with 15 being condemned. The Potomac Electric Power reported 9000 people without power. Damage from the second tornado totaled out to $5 million.[46] The third and final tornado touched down in Odenton, became an F1 tornado and doing $250,000 in damage to the area. Eleven houses were damaged and about 10,000 people were without power in the whole district that the Baltimore Gas and Electric serves.[47]

Central United States[edit]

In Tennessee, rainfalls included about 3 to 5 inches (76 to 127 mm) in the central part of the state, one inch (25 mm) at the western part of the state and 3 to 5 in (76 to 127 mm) in the eastern part of the state.[23] Wind speeds at the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains were recorded at 70 mph (110 km/h) whereas 40–50 mph (64–80 km/h) gusts were more common at the lower elevations. Trees and power lines were down over much of the region. Over 70 miles (110 km) of the Appalachian Trail were closed due to trees being down. A total of over 20,000 people were without power from Opal's wrath. The most damage occurred in Hamilton County, which had damage was estimated over a total of $1 million. Damage in Hamilton County include a circus was left stranded at a campground and needed to be evacuated. A number of residences and businesses were also surrounded by water and occupants were to be evacuated. Total damage in Tennessee totaled out at $2.02 million.[48]

In Kentucky, 1 to 5 inches (25 to 127 mm) of rain was reported throughout the state from Opal.[23] Total rainfall across Jefferson County, where Louisville is located ranged from 2.4 inches (61 mm) at the Louisville International Airport to 3.5 inches (89 mm) at Fern Creek Road south of the Gene Snyder Freeway. Several trees were knocked down and soils were saturated after Opal passed through.[49] A bridge washed out over Sulphur Creek and minor flooding was reported across Kentucky Route 80.[50] Elizabethtown and the Fort Knox area had several roads closed after Opal washed them out.[51]

In Michigan, Opal produced 2 to 3 inches (51 to 76 mm) of rain over the Middle Rouge River Basin from late afternoon through the evening on the 5th. As a result, the Middle Rouge River crested one foot over flood stage, causing the Edward Hines Drive to be closed off to traffic.[52] High winds associated with the remains of Hurricane Opal affected the area during the late afternoon and early evening on the 5th. Strong northeast winds destroyed a new 200-foot (61-m), two-story pole barn on the Marine City Highway in Marine City. The storm also cut power to several areas, resulting in some school closings. The maximum wind gust at Detroit Metro Airport was a 38-mph (61-km/h) gust, which was from the northeast. The damage from this incident totaled out to $15,000.[53]

The remnants of Opal passed across northeast Ohio and caused wind gusts up to 45 mph (72 km/h) and sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph (32 to 48 km/h) all across northern Ohio. Several automobiles were damaged by falling trees or limbs. Crops were damaged from the strong winds. A number of farms reported fields of corn blown over and ripe apples and other fruit being stripped from trees. Rainfall of 3.4 inches (86 mm) in less than 24 hours was measured at Mansfield, and most areas averaged 1.5 to 2.5 inches (38 to 64 mm) during the same period. Flooding was localized and not significant since very dry conditions preceded the storm.[54] Sustained northeast winds ahead of the storm reached 55 mph (89 km/h) all across the lake with gusts to 70 mph (110 km/h) producing waves of 10 to 14 feet (3.0 to 4.3 m). Minor to moderate beach and shore erosion occurred in many areas, especially the western end of the lake. Localized flooding occurred in communities with low-lying areas along the lake. Boats were also grounded. Damage in Ohio totaled out to $205,000.[55]

Northeastern United States[edit]

Most severe landfalling Atlantic hurricanes in the United States
based on size and intensity for total points on the Hurricane Severity Index[56]
Hurricane Year Intensity Size Total
Carla 1961 17 25 42
Hugo 1989 16 24 40
Betsy 1965 15 25 40
Camille 1969 22 14 36
Katrina 2005 13 23 36
Opal 1995 11 25 36
Miami 1926 15 19 34
Audrey 1957 17 16 33
Fran 1996 11 22 33
Wilma 2005 12 21 33

In New Jersey, thunderstorms with heavy rain, averaging around 3.5 inches (89 mm) countywide, caused flooding of small streams and roadways including United States Route 46. The heavy rain was represented as the first significant dent in the drought that had affected northern New Jersey since September 1994. Storm totals included 6.7 inches (170 mm) in Wawayanda, 5.3 (135 mm) in Hackettstown, 4.5 inches (110 mm) in Oak Ridge, 4.2 inches (110 mm) in Clinton and 4.10 inches (104 mm) in Pequannock.

The remnants of Opal caused severe thunderstorms that uprooted trees near Belvidere. Trees and wires were down in scattered parts of the county including Route 57 near the Tri-county Firehouse. Downed wires caused power outages in Hackettstown and Mansfield Township.[57]

The remnants of Hurricane Opal passed over northwest Pennsylvania on Thursday night (5th/6th) and caused wind gusts up to 50 mph (80 km/h) and sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph (32 to 48 km/h). Heavy rains accompanied the storm and averaged 1.5 to 2.5 inches (38 to 64 mm). Flooding was localized and not significant since drought conditions preceded the storm. The prolonged period of strong winds brought down trees and limbs along with some power lines. At least one automobile was damaged by a downed tree in Erie. Several farms reported fields of corn blown down and apples and other fruit being stripped from trees. The actual crop damage estimate was unknown.[58]

The remnants of Opal passed just to the west of Buffalo, New York on October 5 and 6. Two to 3 inches (38–64 mm) of rain fell over much of the area with isolated amounts of near four inches (102 mm) over parts of the western Southern Tier. Sustained winds were estimated between 35 and 40 mph (56 and 64 km/h), but the easterly winds did down some trees and power lines. In Oneida County, the high winds downed trees and wires in New York Mills, Waterville, Sylvan Beach, North Bay, Lee Center, Rome, McConnellsville and Verona. In Saratoga County a large tree limb was downed in Saratoga Springs which damaged four cars. Total damage in New York totaled to $35,000.[59][60]

A low pressure area which used to be Opal moved across western and northern New York late and into Vermont on the night of October 5 and the morning October 6. Damaging winds occurred across parts of central and northern Vermont but especially along the western slopes of the Green Mountains. Damaging winds downed trees and power lines across Essex, Orleans, Addison, Caledonia and Rutland counties. In Essex County damage occurred in Canaan and Concord. Damage was also reported in Caledonia County, in Rutland County, in Clarendon and Chittenden and in Orleans County in Derby Center. Total damage in Vermont totaled out to $135,000.[61]

Heavy winds and rain associated with the remnants of Opal brought down trees and knocked out power in southwestern and northern New Hampshire. One person was injured in Marlborough when a large tree blew onto his moving pickup truck.[62]

In Maine, heavy winds and rain associated with the remnants of Opal brought down trees and knocked out power in coastal areas of southern Maine. Some beach erosion occurred in Saco. Strong winds ripped away boats from their moorings in the Midcoast towns of Camden and Rockland.[63]

Canada[edit]

Wind and gale warnings were issued in southern Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River in accordance with the remnants of Opal by the Canadian Hurricane Centre on October 5. The remnants also spawned a heavy rainfall warning by the Ontario Hurricane Center and the Quebec Hurricane Center for both provinces. The anticipated rain would not exist as the same as Hurricane Hazel 41 years before. The leftover system of Opal spawned a gale warning for Nova Scotia.[64] Rainfalls equaled out to 0.5 inches (13 mm) in Northwestern Ontario, 0.5 inches (13 mm) in southern parts of Quebec and New Brunswick. Rainfall stretched out to the area of Nova Scotia, but only 0.5 inches (13 mm) was reported.[65] Toronto had recorded winds of at least 52 mph (84 km/h) and rainfall of about 3.09 inches (78 mm).[66]

Retirement[edit]

Owing to the extreme destruction in the Southeast United States and the death toll in Mexico, the name "Opal" was retired in the spring of 1996, and will never again be used in the Atlantic basin. It was replaced with "Olga" in the 2001 season.

Opal was the first storm to be assigned a name beginning with letter 'O' since hurricane naming began in the Atlantic in 1950.

Record[edit]

When Opal's pressure dropped to 916 mbar, it became the strongest Category 4 hurricane on record in the north Atlantic basin; surpassing the previous record of 919 mbar set by Gloria in 1985.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ All mentions of sustained winds are in one-minute mean standards unless otherwise noted.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Mayfield, Max. Hurricane Opal (Preliminary Report). Miami, Florida: National Hurricane Center. Archived from the original on May 3, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  2. ^ Bosart, Lance F.; Velden, Christopher S.; Bracken, W. Edward; Molinari, John; Black, Peter G. (2000). "Environmental Influences on the Rapid Intensification of Hurricane Opal (1995) over the Gulf of Mexico" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review. Miami, Florida: American Meteorological Society. 128 (2): 322–352. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(2000)128<0322:EIOTRI>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Atlantic hurricane season brews up first-ever O-named storms". Gettysburg Times. 93 (235). Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. October 2, 1995. p. A10. Retrieved May 1, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  4. ^ Hong, Xiaodong; Chang, Simon W.; Raman, Sethu; Shay, Lynn K.; Hodur, Richard (April 27, 1999). "The Interaction between Hurricane Opal (1995) and a Warm Core Ring in the Gulf of Mexico" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review. Miami, Florida: American Meteorological Society. 128 (5): 1347–1365. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(2000)128<1347:TIBHOA>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Tropical Storm Opal keeps Gulf states on edge". The Facts (82). Clute, Texas. Associated Press. October 2, 1995. p. 1A. Retrieved May 1, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  6. ^ "At Least Seven Dead As Hurricane Heads For U.S.". The Daily Herald. 130 (28). Tyrone, Philadelphia. Associated Press. October 3, 1995. p. 7. Retrieved May 1, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  7. ^ Holan, Mark (October 2, 1995). "Isle officials monitor Opal". The Daily News. 153 (176). Galveston, Texas. The Daily News. p. 1-A. Retrieved May 1, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  8. ^ Ryba, Jeanne; Dunbar, Brian (April 1, 2010). "STS-73". Mission Archives. National Aeronautic and Space Administration. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  9. ^ Frazier, Joseph B. (October 3, 1995). "Evacuation Ordered as Hurricane Draws Near". Daily Sitka Sentinel. 57 (191). Sitka, Alaska. Associated Press. p. 2. Retrieved May 17, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  10. ^ a b U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Philadelphia District (September 1996). Hurricane Opal Assessment (PDF) (Report). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (1995). "Hydrometeorolgical Prediction Center Advisory 1". Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  12. ^ Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (1995). "Hydrometeorolgical Prediction Center Advisory 2". Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  13. ^ Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (1995). "Hydrometeorolgical Prediction Center Advisory 3". Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  14. ^ U.S. Army (1995). "Hazards and Vulnerability Data". U.S. Army. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  15. ^ a b Marilyn news (In spanish)
  16. ^ Joseph B. Frazier (October 2, 1995). "New Hurricane Wanders Gulf of Mexico, Dumping Heavy Rain". Mexico City, Mexico: Associated Press.  (Accessed through LexisNexis)
  17. ^ a b Sara Silver (October 1, 1995). "Opal Floods Yucatan Peninsula". Mexico City, Mexico: Associated Press.  (Accessed through LexisNexis)
  18. ^ Joseph B. Frazier (October 3, 1995). "At Least Seven Dead as Hurricane Heads North Toward U.S". Veracruz, Mexico: Associated Press.  (Accessed through LexisNexis)
  19. ^ "Hurricane leaves six dead in Mexico". Campeche, Mexico: United Press International. October 2, 1995.  (Accessed through LexisNexis)
  20. ^ "Yucatan peninsula cut off by floods". Campeche, Mexico: United Press International. October 3, 1995.  (Accessed through LexisNexis)
  21. ^ Geocities Article on Hurricane Opal
  22. ^ Hurricane Opal 1995
  23. ^ a b c d e f Rainfall Totals: Hurricane Opal
  24. ^ Hurricane Ivan Situation Report #4
  25. ^ Event-Hurricane Opal-: 4 October 1995, 0200 CST
  26. ^ a b c Event- Hurricane Opal- 4 October 1995, 2400 CST
  27. ^ Event- Beach Flood- 4 October 1995, 0800 CDT
  28. ^ Hurricane Opal Technological Report
  29. ^ Event-High Winds- 5 October 1995, 0300 EST
  30. ^ Event - Thunderstorm Winds - October 1995, 0600 EST
  31. ^ Event- Flash Flood- 5 October 1995, 0200 EST
  32. ^ Significant Tornadoes in South Carolina 1990-2001
  33. ^ Tropical Cyclones Affecting North Carolina
  34. ^ Opal ravages coastline
  35. ^ Geologic hazards in North Carolina — Landslides
  36. ^ PRELIMINARY FINDINGS OF THE SEPTEMBER 16, 2004 DEBRIS FLOW AT PEEKS CREEK, MACON COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA
  37. ^ Event- Flash Flood- 5 October 1995, 0600 EST
  38. ^ Event-High Winds-5 October 1995, 0300 EST
  39. ^ Event- High Winds- 5 October 1995, 1400 EST
  40. ^ a b Hurricane Opal Damage in the Smokies
  41. ^ Event- Heavy Rain- 5 October 1995, 0500 EST
  42. ^ Event- High Winds- 5 October 1995, 1030 EST
  43. ^ Event- High Winds- 5 October 1995, 1200 EST
  44. ^ Event- High Winds- 5 October 1995, 1200 EST
  45. ^ Event- Tornado- 5 October 1995, 1935 EST
  46. ^ Event-Tornado-5 October 1995, 1959 EST
  47. ^ Event- Tornado- 5 October 1995, 2031 EST
  48. ^ Event- High Winds- 5 October 1995, 0030 EST
  49. ^ Event- Gradient Winds- 5 October 1995, 0800 EDT
  50. ^ Event-Flash Flood- 5 October 1995, 0700 EDT
  51. ^ Event-Flash Flood- 5 October 1995, 0600 EDT
  52. ^ Event- River Flood- 5 October 1995, 2000 EST
  53. ^ Event- High Winds- 5 October 1995, 1600 EST
  54. ^ Event- High Winds- 5 October 1995, 0900 EST
  55. ^ Event- High Winds- 5 October 1995, 0900 EST
  56. ^ Hurricane Severity Index
  57. ^ Event- Thunderstorm Winds- 5 October 1995, 2355 EST
  58. ^ Event- Heavy Rain- 5 October 1995, 1200 EST
  59. ^ Event- High Winds- 5 October 1995, 1925 EST
  60. ^ Event- High Winds- 5 October 1995, 2300 EST
  61. ^ Event- High Winds- 5 October 1995, 2200 EST
  62. ^ Event- High Winds- 5 October 1995, 2315 EST
  63. ^ Event- High Winds- 6 October 1995, 0300 EST
  64. ^ Canadian Hurricane Center Advisory 1
  65. ^ Rainfall - October 7
  66. ^ Significant Weather Events - Canada

External links[edit]