Hurricane Opal Facts: Learn About The Damage It Has Caused

Shagun Dhanuka
Dec 01, 2022 By Shagun Dhanuka
Originally Published on Apr 06, 2022
Edited by Daisha Capers
Fact-checked by Nishtha Dixit
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Hurricane Opal Facts: Learn About The Damage It Has Caused

In 1995, Hurricane Opal caused extensive damage to the Gulf Coast region of the United States.

The powerful tropical cyclone that hit Central America was responsible for dozens of deaths and damages. The Category four hurricane was one of the most powerful tropical depressions to hit the area in over twenty years.

Hurricane Opal is often considered one of the worst hurricanes ever to hit the Gulf region. The storm surge from Opal was estimated to have created high winds of nearly 15 - 20 ft (4.57 - 6.09 m).

This led to widespread flooding and significant damage to homes and businesses. In addition to the damage caused by the storm surge, 'Opal' also produced strong winds and heavy rain.

These conditions led to widespread power outages and damage to crops and infrastructure. The tropical depression was a devastating reminder of the power of nature and the importance of being prepared for hurricanes.

In this article, we will take a closer look at Hurricane Opal and its effects on the environment.

History And Origin Of Hurricane Opal

Hurricane Opal made landfall on October 4, 1995, near Pensacola Beach. Satellite imagery confirms that it was initially a tropical wave that originated on the west coast of Africa on September 11.

On September 27, it became a tropical depression near Cozumel in Mexico. The depression moved across the Yucatan Peninsula, developing into a tropical storm on September 30 around the southern region of the Gulf of Mexico.

On October 2, 1995, the storm gradually became a hurricane near Merida in Mexico.

Hurricane Opal was declared a Category four hurricane on October 4 near the Gulf coast, drifting north towards the central United States. The hurricane had weakened to Category three intensity when it made landfall on Pensacola Beach near five p.m. that day.

Hurricane Opal caused catastrophic damage in the Florida Panhandle. It is considered one of the most destructive hurricanes to hit the United States, which caused nearly four billion dollars of damage. Inland, the hurricane caused severe flooding and damage to homes and businesses. It is estimated that a total of 63 American lives were lost during the storm

Magnitude Of Hurricane Opal

Before landfall in Pensacola Beach, the Category four hurricane reached a maximum windspeed of 150 mph (241.40 kph).

Hurricane Opal weakened to Category three when it made landfall during the late evening of October 4, with wind speeds recorded at 115 mph (185.07 kph).

The hurricane also brought in heavy rainfall, reaching peaks of 19.42 in (493.26 mm) in central Alabama, 15.45 in (392.43 mm) in Florida, 17 in (431 mm) in North Carolina, and 18.08 in (459.23 mm) in Peachtree City.

Rainfall in other areas around Central America and Mexico received rainfall within single-digit units.

The hurricane was a powerful Cape Verde-type hurricane that struck the Yucatan Peninsula and made landfall in Florida.

Damage Caused And Effects Of Hurricane Opal

Hurricane Opal was a catastrophic hurricane that struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in 1995. The storm caused massive damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and people, estimated to have cost more than $ 4 - 4.7 billion. It is estimated that the damages in Florida alone were nearly 2.1 billion dollars.

In Guatemala, 34000 people lost their homes, and around 42000 people from Mexico had to be evacuated. Falling trees in Alabama caused widescale power outages affecting more than two million people from the southeastern United States.

The storm surge removed sand dunes of nearly 25 ft (7.62 m) that lay along US Highway 98, causing structural damage near the coastline. Around 10 000 people had to be evacuated from several parts of the US Gulf Coast.

Causes Of Hurricane Opal

There were a few different causes that led to the development of Hurricane Opal.

The weak tropical wave near Africa was pushed across the Atlantic Ocean and into the Caribbean due to a low-pressure zone. The wave transformed into a tropical depression over the Yucatan Peninsula and eventually grew into a storm after encountering weak steering currents while moving across the peninsula.

The favorable atmospheric conditions in the region provided enough convection for forming a warm-core cyclone.

The depression grew into a tropical storm near the north-central coast of the peninsula. Tropical storm Opal intensified into a hurricane when it caught up with the warm temperatures of the sea surface near the Gulf of Mexico.

A strong trough across Central America also provided additional lift and spin to the hurricane, aiding its intensification into a Category four hurricane. Hurricane Opal made landfall in the coastal areas of the Florida Panhandle, with high wind gusts and causing heavy rains.

FAQs

What caused Hurricane Opal?

Due to a lack of strong steering currents, the tropical depression over the Yucatan Peninsula underwent tropical cyclogenesis and developed into a storm. The storm intensified into Hurricane Opal.

Where did Hurricane Opal originate?

Hurricane Opal originated as a tropical wave near the western coastal region of Africa. It became a tropical storm and a major hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico.

How many miles wide was Hurricane Opal?

At its peak, the hurricane was about 500 mi (804.67 km) wide. Most of the damage from the hurricane was done by its peak wind gusts and storm surge.

What category hurricane was Opal?

Opal was a Category four hurricane when it struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in October of 1995.

Where did Hurricane Opal make landfall?

Hurricane Opal landed on the Florida Panhandle, near Pensacola Beach, on October 4, 1995.

When was Hurricane Opal in Atlanta?

Hurricane Opal hit Atlanta on October 4, 1995.

How much damage did Hurricane Opal cause?

The major damage caused by Hurricane Opal was estimated to be around $4.7 billion, which included loss of life, agriculture, and infrastructure.

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Sources

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAMU0elffHo

https://www.weatherbug.com/news/This-Day-In-History-Hurricane-Opal-Drenches-Atlan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Opal#Meteorological_history

http://edition.cnn.com/US/9510/opal/10-05/georgia/index.html

https://www.weather.gov/mob/opal

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Written by Shagun Dhanuka

Bachelor of Business Administration

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Shagun DhanukaBachelor of Business Administration

With a Degree in Business Administration, Shagun is an avid writer with a passion for food, fashion, and travel, which she explores on her blog. Her love of literature has led her to become a member of a literary society, where she contributes to promoting literary festivals in her role as head of marketing for her college. Shagun also pursues learning the Spanish language in her free time.

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Fact-checked by Nishtha Dixit

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

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Nishtha DixitBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Nishtha is an experienced SEO writer and editor, with a passion for writing and self-expression. She is currently pursuing an undergraduate major in Literature and Communication and a minor in Political Science from the University of Delhi. Nishtha has completed a certificate master course in English from the British Council and has been appointed as the editor for the bi-monthly magazine of the University of Delhi.

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