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When Barry came, he brought some company

It was the day the Gulf Coast escaped its first tropical strike for the year and Greenville became the meeting place for crews of The Weather Channel.

On Monday, many citizens of the Camellia City remembered the destruction of Hurricane Opal in 1995 and tuned in to The Weather Channel for up-to-the-minute accuracy in forecasting of Tropical Storm Barry.

Just four miles per hour below hurricane status, forecasters spoke optimistically about how Barry would affect the lives and property of the area, saying that it would quickly lose steam and break up.

&uot;We were in Indianapolis, Ind. for the &uot;Brickyard 400&uot; race on Sunday,&uot; said Mike Seidel, on-camera meteorologist for The Weather Channel. &uot;Two of us flew from Indianapolis to Atlanta, then on to Tallahassee, Fla., where we picked up an Explorer - meanwhile, our satellite truck crew was driving down from the race.&uot;

Seidel said the two pairs converged on Greenville at approximately 10:30 on Sunday night.

&uot;We stayed at the Hampton

Inn, and started bright and early this morning covering the storm,&uot; he said.

Greenville, because it is a junction of several main highways, and the availability of lodging, was the logical choice to meet for the storm's wrap-up story.

Seidel, a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, where he received his masters degree in meteorology, has been in broadcasting since 1972, when he got his start in radio. He has been in TV broadcasting for 20 years, the last 10 with The Weather Channel.

Although he is regularly seen coming from the studio on Saturday and Sunday from 2-5 p.m., he is more often associated with on-site reporting of major weather stories, including hurricanes and snowstorms.

In a release issued on Sunday, Alabama Emergency Management Agency (EMA) officials announced they were working with emergency coordinators from various state agencies at the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC), monitoring the path of Tropical Storm Barry.

At that time, it was expected that Barry would grow in strength to become a hurricane before making landfall, with an expected path somewhere between Pascagoula, Miss. and Florida's Ochlocknee River.

Gov. Don Siegelman Sunday activated the state's EOC as a result of the hurricane warnings.

Although area residents experienced power outages early on Monday morning from downed power lines caused from trees falling, most power was restored before dinnertime.

Locally, Butler County experienced only light damage, with a few trees having fallen in Greenville and small limbs down through the county, according to Butler County's EMA Director Bob Luman.

&uot;We were very lucky this time; we had no flood damage, and according to one monitoring source, we only received 3-1/2 inches of rain,&uot; Luman said. &uot;As far as I know, there were just a few power outages, and all were restored before noon Monday.&uot;

before making landfall, with an expected path somewhere between Pascagoula, Miss. and Florida's Ochlocknee River.

Gov. Don Siegelman Sunday activated the state's EOC as a result of the hurricane warnings.

Although area residents experienced power outages early on Monday morning from downed power lines caused from trees falling, most power was restored before dinnertime.