Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hurricanes I have lived thru in Texas

Hurricanes I Have Lived Thru in Texas

Text by USAToday

Hurricane Audrey, 1957: Hurricane Audrey made landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border on June 27th with devastating effects. Its central pressure deepened considerably in the last five hours before landfall. There were 390 deaths as the result of a storm surge in excess of 12 feet, which inundated the flat coast of Louisiana as far as 25 miles inland in some places.

Hurricane Carla, 1961: Carla was the largest and most intense Gulf Coast hurricane in decades. On September 8, Carla's center took aim at the Texas coast. By the 9th, Carla's circulation enveloped the entire Gulf of Mexico with fringe effects along all Gulf Coast states.
On the 9th, the largest mass evacuation to that date occurred, as an estimated one-half million residents of low coastal areas and islands off Texas and Louisiana were evacuated to higher ground. As the center approached Texas on the 10th, winds near the center were estimated at 150 mph. Reconnaissance aircraft indicated a central pressure of 931 mb just prior to its striking the coast. Only 46 lost their lives because of early warnings. Severe damage along a wide expanse of the Texas coast was caused by unusually prolonged winds, high tides and flooding from torrential rains.

Hurricane Beulah, 1967: The storm developed off the African coast and became a hurricane in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the 8th. From September 10th to 13th it weakened greatly and was downgraded to a tropical storm. However, on the 14th, it regained hurricane status again, turned toward the northwest and headed for the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. It made landfall at Cozumel on the 16th, and entered the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on the 17th.
On the l9th, it intensified, and reconnaissance aircraft recorded a central pressure of 920 mb or 27.17 inches. It continued moving northwest and made landfall between Brownsville, TX and the mouth of the Rio Grande about daybreak on September 20. A ship at anchor in Port Brownsville reported winds of 136 mph. Beulah's strength was seen in the impact the storm's surge had along Padre Island, Texas.
A total of 31 cuts were observed through the island in the portion extending south from a point 30 miles south of Corpus Christi, TX. A cut is a new channel through a barrier island. The storm surge was found to have reached a height of at least 18 feet. Torrential rains fell in southern Texas, with amounts ranging from 10 to 20 inches. Beulah also spawned an unsurpassed number of tornadoes, but most were small and occurred in rural areas. The death toll from Beulah reached 15 in Texas--5 from tornadoes and 10 from flooding.

Hurricane Celia, 1970: Hurricane Celia was one of the most destructive storms to ever hit Texas, with damages estimated at $1.6 billion (in 1990 dollars). Celia became a hurricane on August 1 in the Gulf of Mexlco and intensified rapidly in 15 hours before it crossed the coast north of Corpus Christi. As it moved over land, spectacular damage occurred from a "cluster of high energy winds of short duration," (also called downbursts or microbursts).
The extreme winds raked across the residential and business areas in less than half an hour. It was estimated that winds reached as high as 160 mph for several seconds. During those disastrous seconds, incredible damage occurred at the airport and an adjacent mobile home park which was completely demolished. Fortunately, only 11 died in the Corpus Christi area due to the state of preparedness by its disaster prevention agencies.

Hurricane Allen, 1980: When it was over the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Allen was one of the most intense hurricanes ever. Allen reached Category 5 status three times. It obtained a 911 mb (26.89 inches) central pressure in the eastern Caribbean on August 5 while south of Puerto Rico.
After weakening near Haiti and Jamaica, Allen again strengthened and a minimum pressure of 899 mb (26.55 inches) was recorded by a NOAA aircraft on the 7th when it was off the Yucatan Peninsula. Only Hurricane Gilbert with the all time low pressure reading of 888 mb in 1988, and the infamous Labor Day hurricane of 1935 with a central pressure of 892 mb were lower than Allen's 899 mb central pressure.
Allen lost strength again near the Yucatan Peninsula but regained it over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico with a central pressure of 909 mb (26.84 inches) on 9th. The center of Allen did not cross any land until it moved inland north of Brownsville, on the 9th. Just off the Texas coast, Allen hesitated long enough to weaken to 945 mb (27.91 inches), and then moved inland north of Brownsville bringing highest tides and winds over the least populated section of the Texas coast. Only two deaths were directly attributed to Allen. The strongest measured winds were gusts to 129 mph at Port Mansfield, Texas. A storm surge up to 12 feet along Padre Island caused numerous barrier island cuts and washouts.
Hurricane Alicia, 1983: Alicia was the first hurricane to strike the Continental U.S. since Allen in 1980. It was the longest period in this century that the U.S. mainland had gone without a hurricane landfall (though tropical storms did hit within that time). Alicia was a small to medium size hurricane. It reached a minimal Category 3 status as it hit land. The center of Alicia moved over the Texas coast about 25 miles southwest of Galveston on August 18. Aircraft observations indicated that only a 60 mile section of the coast, extending northeastward from Freeport, Texas, experienced hurricane force winds. Despite its small size, Alicia caused over $2.4 billion in damage (in 1990 dollars).
USATODAY.com: Hurricane Alicia

Hurricane Gilbert, 1988: Although Gilbert, one of the most powerful hurricanes of the century, did not strike the U.S. Gulf coast, it did affect Texas and Oklahoma. It is often compared to 1969's Hurricane Camille, because like Camille, it was also a Category 5 storm.
Hurricane Gilbert was also a monumental storm, because it had the lowest sea level pressure ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere at 888 mb (26.23 inches). The highest sustained winds recorded were in Jamamica at 116 mph, with gusts to 140 mph. An unofficial report recorded slightly higher readings.
Gilbert's track took it through Jamaica, over the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, through the southwest Gulf of Mexico and made final landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on the northeast Mexican coast on September 16th. Gilbert brought 5 to 10 inches of rain over coastal sections and more in mountainous areas.
The weakening storm passed south of Monterrey, Mexico, bringing massive flooding to the area. The storm then tracked north into western Texas and Oklahoma as a heavy rain storm on the 18th. A total of 318 people were killed; 315 throughout Mexico, Central America, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, and 3 in the U.S. Damages in Mexico were estimated between $1-2 billion (1990 dollars), and nearly $2 billion in Jamaica.
The Mexican government reported that more than 60,000 homes were destroyed. The 3 U.S. deaths occurred in San Antonio, from tornadoes spawned from Gilbert's remnants. At least 29 tornadoes were observed across south Texas, and they caused between $40-50 million in damages. In the area of Brownsville, wind gusts from Gilbert of 67 mph to 83 mph were measured by an observer with a truck mounted anemometer, before the storm made landfall in Mexico.
National Hurricane Center: Hurricane Gilbert


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