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Texas Hurricane History:
Late 20th Century (continued)


August 3rd, 1970 (Celia): Hurricane Celia hit Corpus Christi. The system was spawned by a tropical depression which formed in the Northwest Caribbean on July 30th and moved on a west-northwest heading. Celia became a hurricane on the 1st of August, when centered about midway between Tampa, FL and Merida, MX. Evacuations of the upper Texas coast began at 11 am on the 2nd and hurricane warnings were extended southward to Corpus Christi at 5 am on the 3rd.

Celia made landfall between Corpus Christi and Port Aransas by 3 P.M. and moved across Mathis, Fowlerton, Cotulla, Eagle Pass, and Del Rio. Gusts estimated to 180 m.p.h. blew down the anemometer at Aransas Pass. Corpus Christi reported sustained winds of 125 m.p.h. with gusts to 161 m.p.h. occurring at 5:38 P.M. on the 3rd. Damage reached $1 million in Del Rio as winds gusted to 89 m.p.h.. Robstown measured 7.24" of rain, while Aransas Pass reported 6.5" of rain, and Corpus Christi had 6.38". Three tornadoes were spawned by the hurricane. The remains of Celia drifted into Southern New Mexico by the 5th.

A picture of Celia making landfall On the left is a picture of Celia making landfall on August 3rd. Satellite picture courtesy of the National Climatic Data Center.

A storm surge of 9.2 feet was seen at Port Aransas Beach. An oil derrick designed to withstand 175 mph winds was blown away at Robstown. Lowest station pressure recorded on land was 27.89" at 4:45 P.M. in Ingleside. Damages totaled $500 million, most due to high winds. This is quite unusual considering storm surge is the greatest source of damage from a major hurricane. Four died in the storm.

September 9-13th, 1971 (Fern): Hurricanes Fern and Edith, in that order, affected the coast from September 7th through the 16th. Fern paralleled the Texas coast while a hurricane and made landfall as a tropical storm on the 11th. Rainfall amounts between 15 and 26 inches deluged Bee, Refugio, and San Patricio counties. Major flooding occurred along portions of the Frio, Lavaca, Navidad, San Antonio, Guadeloupe, Mission, and Aransas Rivers. This caused the worst flooding in area since Beulah. Waters went crashing over the Wesley Seale Dam at Lake Corpus Christi, causing major flooding. A levee broke at Robstown, flooding 40 blocks of the southwest side of town. Railroad tracks were washed out between Falflurrias and Alice due to the flooding rains.

Wind gusts over 100 mph blew away the anemometer at Port O'Connor at 10 am on the 10th. Gusts above 60 mph were seen from Galveston down the coast past Corpus Christi. The lowest pressure noted on land was 28.92" at Ingleside at 10:45 P.M. on the 10th. Five tornadoes were generated by Fern. The highest storm surge seen was 6 feet at Freeport. Four Cuban fishing vessels were driven ashore Mustang Island. Damages totaled $30 million, $5 million of which occurred at Sinton alone. Two people died during the storm.

To the right in red is a map of counties that Fern affected most.

A map of counties that Fern affected most.

September 14-17th, 1971 (Edith): Edith made landfall as a category 2 hurricane on the 16th. A six foot storm surge overran Highway 87 between Sabine Pass and High Island. Galveston saw the highest wind gust - 53 mph. Port Arthur saw a gust to 47 mph. A hailstorm early on the 16th across Southern Swisher and Northern Hale counties covered the ground 2 to 3 inches deep and incurred $7.4 million in damage to crops.

To the right, in red, is a map of the counties Edith impacted the most.

Late on the 16th, the worst hailstorm in the history of Lynn county dropped stones 3" in diameter which caused $5 million in damage to their cotton and sorghum crops. Power lines and trees were downed, and slight property damage occurred elsewhere ($180,000). All survived Edith.

A map of the counties Edith impacted the most

July 30th, 1978 (Amelia): Amelia suddenly developed 50 miles off the South Texas coast near Brownsville. Damage was minimal at landfall, but the storm revived west of San Antonio. By August 2nd, 25 people had died along the banks of the Guadelupe, Medina, and Sabinal Rivers. 

July 24-27th, 1979 (Claudette): Although this is a list of hurricanes, it would not be complete without damaging Tropical Storm Claudette, which made landfall near Galveston and made a loop just after landfall, basically stalling over Southeast Texas for 2 days. At Nederland, the pressure bottomed out at 29.46". Winds gusted to 60 mph. Chocolate Bayou has tides as high as 5 feet. A deluge of rain ensued, causing amounts greater than 10" within 40 miles of the coast from Matagorda Bay to Sabine Pass. Totals reached 45 inches at Alvin (42 inches of which fell in 24 hours, establishing a new U.S. rainfall record.

This caused widespread and nearly unprecedented flooding across the area; most streams didn't return to their banks until the 30th. Fifteen thousand homes and hundreds of businesses were flooded out. The rice crop was beaten into the soil by the heavy rain. Six counties in Southeast Texas were declared major disaster areas by then President Jimmy Carter.

In Austin, 2" of rain fell within an hour's time around 7 am on the 27th and caused flash flooding. A hail storm, accompanied by high winds, occurred at 1:45 P.M. on the 27th in Val Verde county between Loma Alta and Bakers Crossing. Claudette produced $750 million in damages, putting it on the National Hurricane Center's list of history's most damaging tropical cyclones in the United States. One person drowned at a flooded underpass in the Golden Triangle. 

August 10th, 1980 (Allen): Allen formed 1100 miles east of Barbados on August 1st. It moved westward through the Atlantic and became a hurricane on the 3rd, when about 120 miles east of Barbados. The storm became the strongest hurricane ever in the Caribbean on the 7th, with winds of 185 m.p.h. sustained and higher gusts, and a pressure of 899 mb (26.55"). It began to weaken as it entered the Gulf of Mexico on the 8th as it moved west-northwest. Dry air began to intrude into the system which caused weakening. As it slowed to a crawl off of Brownsville, dry air continued to be entrained and it kept weakening. Allen made landfall as a category 3 hurricane near Port Mansfield on August 10th. 

Highest wind gust reported was from Port Mansfield, 138 m.p.h.. Storm surges reached 12 feet at Port Mansfield. Five foot surges were reported up to Galveston Island. Severe beach erosion took place as far away as Port Arthur, completely destroying Texas highway 87 between High Island and Sabine Pass on the 9th. The pressure at Brownsville fell to 28.62". Winds gusted to 92 mph at Corpus Christi. Buildings in Brownsville had up to 4 ft. of water. Padre Island was cut through in 68 places, by one count. Tornadoes damaged 25 homes in Penita and injured 3 in San Antonio. About 300,000 people evacuated. Seven died in Texas and 17 in Louisiana; most in Louisiana died as a helicopter evacuating them from an offshore platform crashed. Damages totaled $1 billion. Rains from Allen relieved a serious drought in Southern Texas. 

August 17th, 1983 (Alicia): A weak frontal trough drifted in the Northern Gulf of Mexico on the night of August 14th. A huge area of thunderstorms developed off the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Northwest Florida. A large cluster of thunderstorms, known as a Mesoscale Convective Complex (MCC) was seen 150 miles south of the Louisiana coast during the morning and early afternoon of the 14th. It drifted west-southwest and by the afternoon of the 14th, thunderstorms developed over an apparent surface circulation. A weak low was analyzed in that area. It became 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 in Southwestern Galveston Island after moving painfully slowly in the Gulf. It weakened into a tropical depression as it passed east of College Station.  

To the right is an enhanced image of Alicia as it lurked offshore the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Satellite picture provided courtesy of the National Climatic Data Center.

Storm surges were 12.1 feet at Morgan Point, along Galveston Bay. Highest rainfall total noted was 10.75" at Greens Bayou; 9.70" fell at Deweyville. Highest winds measured were 102 m.p.h. gusts at Galveston. Seventeen tornadoes were spawned by Alicia in Southeast Texas and seventeen people perished.

An enhanced image of Alicia as it lurked offshore the Texas and Louisiana coasts

A major crude oil spill occurred around Texas City. About 60 gallons of water had to removed by the National Weather Service Office in Galveston. An ocean going tug capsized 50 miles south of Sabine Pass. Alicia relieved the drought stricken Plains over the next few days as it continued northward through Oklahoma. Fifty to 200 feet of Galveston Island's coast eroded away. Damages totaled over $3 billion.

June 26th, 1986 (Bonnie): Bonnie made landfall along the upper coast on the 26th. Jefferson County airport gusted to 75 m.p.h. while Sabine Pass reported gusts to 97 m.p.h. at the Coast Guard station near Sea Rim State Park. Debris littered the streets of Port Arthur and Beaumont. High winds ripped roofs off numerous homes and businesses. Tractor-trailer rigs were flipped over. Highway 87 was closed due to fallen power poles early on the 26th. Several aircraft were damaged at area airports. Winds in Sam Rayburn reservoir caused $1 million in damage to boats and marinas.

Counties in which Bonnie had the greatest influence

To the left, in red, shows which counties Bonnie had the greatest influence.

Heavy rains fell between Beaumont and Lake Livingston. As much as 13" fell at Ace, in Southern Polk county. In San Jacinto county, flooding of Big Creek closed U.S. 59 for several hours. Several tornadoes touched down, causing minor damage. See Louisiana Hurricane History for more on Bonnie.


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