Like Opal? Residents hope not

Published 1:47 am Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Locals prep for Michael, expected to be Cat 3

Hurricane Michael was a strong Category 1 storm when the National Hurricane Service gave its 10 p.m. status update on Monday, and was expected to strengthen to a Category 2 by this morning, and possibly a Category 3 by the time it comes ashore later this week.

The National Weather Service in Mobile reported in its 6 p.m. update that Hurricane Michael had moved slightly west, which means hurricane warnings are now in effect along the Gulf Coast from about the Alabama/Florida line eastward to the Suwannee River.

The storm could come ashore anywhere in the warning area, but most forecasters predict it will make landfall near Panama City.

Covington County also is now among the counties listed under a tropical storm warning.

Forecasters have repeatedly said Michael is “like Opal,” in that both formed near the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and moved quickly across the Gulf of Mexico. Opal made landfall in Panama City on Oct. 4, 1995, as a Category 3 storm, causing $3 billion in damage.

Rainfall was catastrophic in some places, including Brewton, where 19.42 inches were recorded.

And the words “like Opal” left Covington County residents with good memories scrambling to stock up on supplies, emptying bread and water shelves at Walmart Monday night. In 1995, the storm left area residents without power for days.

Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide State of Emergency on Monday in anticipation of wide-spread power outages, wind damage and debris produced by high winds and heavy rain associated with Hurricane Michael. Flash flooding and tornadoes are also possible with any hurricane and parts of Alabama have been placed under tropical storm watches or warnings.