Frederic was the first storm to directly hit Mobile since 1916. It was also the first hurricane with Category 3 winds to strike Alabama's Gulf Coast in 38 years.
At landfall, it caused extensive damage along the Gulf Coast from Pensacola to Dauphin Island with a devastating 12-foot storm surge in the area around Dauphin Island. 80% of the buildings on Dauphin Island were destroyed, including the causeway linking the island to the mainland.
Winds were intense and remained so for an hour or more after the eye made landfall. Eventually, the hurricane lost its intensity and moved to the northeast.
During this time, the National Weather Service received numerous reports of damage across the Mobile metropolitan area. There were reports of downed trees that blocked roads, fell onto homes and businesses, and brought down power lines.
The resulting damage to the city of Mobile and other nearby areas was unprecedented, with many people being without power for months. The damage was estimated at $2.3 billion.
The storm also caused an extensive evacuation, the largest up to that point in the Gulf Coast region. It was a result of the risk that the hurricane posed to the area, and a half a million people fled the region ahead of the storm. This exodus prevented the death toll from being much higher than it otherwise would have been.