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Galveston’s Hurricane History

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Presentation on theme: "Galveston’s Hurricane History"— Presentation transcript:

1 Galveston’s Hurricane History
Presentation by Lew Fincher Hurricane Historian Galveston County Historical Museum Hurricane Consulting, Inc.

2 54 Tropical Cyclones Tracked Within 60 NM of Galveston
1851 – 2003

3 22 Hurricanes Tracked Within 60 NM of The City of Galveston
Note – 1961 Hurricane Carla made landfall 123 Miles from Galveston (not on map)

4 Hurricane of November 1527 This is the first record known of a hurricane along the Texas coastline Destroyed a merchant fleet on Galveston Island. Up to 200 lives were taken by the storm. It struck during the month of November

5 Hurricane of September 4th, 1766
Hurricane hits Galveston. A mission, located in what is now considered Chambers County, was destroyed. Storm surges of 7 feet flooded the area. A richly-laden treasure fleet of 5 galleons en route from Vera Cruz to Havana was driven ashore

6 The Hurricane of Mid-September, 1818
The Storm Lasted 36 Hours Lafitte Suffered Largely Lost 4 Vessels With All Aboard Many On The Island Drown as 4 Feet of the Gulf Flowed Over the Island His Town Destroyed Except For His Headquarters

7 October 6th, 1837: Racer's Storm
The first recorded storm to rake the entire coast was Racer's Storm on October 5th, named for a British sloop of war which encountered the storm in the extreme Northwest Caribbean on September 28th. It is remembered as one of the most destructive storms of the 19th century due to its extreme duration and 2000 mile long path of destruction. It’s track passed Galveston and left the “New” Tremont Hotel was blown down. A storm surge of 6 to 7 feet higher than the spring tide inundated Galveston. Water levels at Houston rose 4 feet. The old Mexican customhouse was the only building remaining standing, where over 80 sold people took shelter The whole character of the harbor entrance shifted during the hurricane. Ships were shoved as far as 3 miles inland It was 4 days after the storm before relief supplies were received from Houston.

8 Hurricane of September 17-19th, 1854
Hurricane hit Matagorda/Galveston. The main impact of the storm was around Matagorda and Lavaca Bays. The town of Matagorda was leveled. Merchants on the Strand and Market Streets in Galveston suffered much water damage from the storm surge. Brazoria also encountered strong winds from the storm. Crops of sugar cane and cotton were ruined. The little steamer Nick Hill went down near Dollar Point, in Galveston Bay. The steamer Kate Ward and her crew proved a total loss. 

9 Hurricane of September 14-16th, 1875
In Galveston, northeast winds began on the night of the 14th. The wind was "higher and harder" than in By the 17th, the tide had risen to 6.48 feet above mean low water. Tides up to 10 feet were seen around Galveston Island. Winds were highest from the northwest, 60 mph, after the storm passed by. Some in the area estimated winds of 110 mph. Two channels were cut across the east end of the Island, with one prolonging the Bolivar Channel. Boats were pushed 5 miles inland. *”… Galveston escaped by only an hour what occurred in 1900 as the biggest channel was cut by the shift in the wind from the North, bringing all the water piled up by the South wind and storm surge along the coast which was reported to have reached up to 37 feet in Buffalo Bayou near Houston. In 25 minutes, it had cut the island in half, a channel 250 feet wide and 25 feet deep at the East end of the island near Ft. Point. Just as the land was washing away like sugar in water, the wind shifted and stopped the cutting. 15 minutes more and a hundred houses would have been carried out to sea.” – Editor Nathan C. Green Indianola was struck again hard. There was a disastrous inundation from Matagorda Bay. Three-fourths of the town was swept away lives were lost. The highest wind measured was 88 m.p.h., when the anemometer blew away. Winds were estimated to be near 100 m.p.h. at the storm's peak. The storm surge was estimated near 15 feet.

10 Hurricane of August 19-20th, 1886
Indianola suffered another calamity from a hurricane. In Galveston, winds were "furiously from the southeast" at 10 am on the 19th, causing area sand to reduce visibility to near zero Winds increased until 5 P.M., and remained high until noon on the 20th; 50 mph at 10 am. Houses careened in the storm surge after midnight. Wires and trees were downed, bridges submerged, and communication was cut off. In Houston, winds increased to gale force at 930 am on the 19th. The height of the bayou rose 5-6 feet during the storm.  New Research from the NOAA Hurricane Research Division have labeled this storm as a Category 5 just before landfall.

11 The Great Galveston Hurricane of September 7-8, 1900
The Last and Worst Hurricane of the 19th Century On the 6th, a hurricane watch was posted along the Gulf Coast westward to New Orleans. By the 7th, it was extended further to include Texas. Many people ignored the warning. Isaac Cline of the Weather Bureau could not believe what was happening. He took matters into his own hands and rode down the beach in a horse-drawn buggy with his brother, warning people to go back to the mainland - in effect, making him a modern day Paul Revere. Unfortunately, few listened. 8000 – Lost Their Lives

12 1900 Storm SLOSH MEOW

13 Hurricane of August 16th, 1915 A monstrous hurricane
Many people with memories of the 1900 hurricane still fresh in their mind, fled inland Storm surges of 12 feet were seen at Galveston, inundating the business district to a depth of 5 or 6 feet. Many houses were demolished and all beach front bathhouses were washed away. A storm surge of 15.3 feet above mean low gulf was noted at Virginia Point. Despite ample warnings from the Weather Bureau 24 hours in advance, 275 people died in the storm (12 on Galveston Island, none of which were behind the seawall).

14 The Surprise Hurricane – July 27, 1943 Winds Recorded Up To 132 mph

15 Hurricane of July 27, 1943 The Surprise Hurricane aka The Secret Storm
War censorship came into question during this hurricane. Landfall over 75 mph Winds at Texas 105 mph Gusts Recorded inland over 130 mph Sank the USACOE Dredge, USS Galveston Old-timers after Carla said the “43” was the worst since the 1915 Storm

16 Hurricane Carla - September 14th, 1961
Made landfall near Port Lavaca 123 Miles from Galveston Produced many tornadoes, 175 mph gusts, torrential rains, and a 22 foot storm surge at Port O'Connor One tornado of the 3-4 that struck Galveston tore apart 120 buildings and killed 6. Structures outside the seawall were severely damaged by the storm surge. Galveston’s official highest sustained winds during Carla reached 85 mph. (Cat. 1 Strength) The Causeway was cut off for evacuation 48 hrs. before landfall.

17 1983 Hurricane Alicia, August 17th, 1983
Born from a weak frontal trough drifted in the Northern Gulf of Mexico on the night of August 14th. Alicia, a tropical storm, by the afternoon of the 15th and a hurricane by the afternoon of the 16th. Hurricane Alicia struck the coast at around 2 am on August 17th near San Louis Pass. Fifty to 200 feet of Galveston Island's coast eroded away Redfish Reef was cut in two. Hit Downtown Houston as a Tropical Storm It weakened into a tropical depression as it passed east of College Station. 

18 1989 Hurricane Jerry Weak Cat 1 Hurricane
Last Hurricane To make Landfall In The Houston / Galveston Area HAVE WE FORGOTTEN?


20 Map Provided By
2003 Hurricane Claudette Near Its Closest Point From Galveston – 80 Miles Map Provided By

21 Are You Ready? The First Hurricane in 25 Years and it’s the worst ever? (Andrew Survivor)

22 265 Major Hurricanes Have Terrorized The Atlantic Basin Since 1851
Our Hurricane Advisor Provides Answers When You Need Them The Most

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