Hurricane Allen

August 9-12, 1980



Allen formed 1100 miles east of Barbados on August 1. The tropical cyclone then moved westward through the Atlantic and became Hurricane Allen on August 3, when about 120 miles east of Barbados. The storm became the strongest hurricane ever in the Caribbean on the 7th, with sustained winds of 185 mph and higher gusts. At this time, Allen's central pressure was 26.55 inches (899 Mb).

Allen began to weaken as it entered the Gulf of Mexico on August 8, as it moved west-northwest. Dry air began to intrude into the system which caused weakening, and this continued as the storm crawled toward Brownsville. Allen made landfall as a category 3 hurricane near Port Mansfield on August 10. Daily rainfall records were set for Corpus Christi on the 9th and 10th (6.34 inches and 6.93 inches, respectively), which led to a new rainfall record for the month of August (14.39 inches). Daily rainfall records were also set on August 10 in Victoria (2.51 inches) and Laredo (3.92 inches). Flooding was a great problem. Ten to fifteen inch rains produced widespread flooding, the most critical being in the Kingsville area.

The highest wind gust reported was from Port Mansfield, registering 138 mph. At the Corpus Christi Airport, the highest sustained wind was 55 mph and the highest wind gust 92 mph, both occurring on August 10. Peak wind gusts at Port Aransas and Aransas Pass were between 105 and 110 mph.

Storm surges reached 12 feet at Port Mansfield, and between 7 and 9 feet in the Coastal Bend. The Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi estimated a surge of 9 feet. Padre Island was cut through in 68 places, and dunes previously on the island were leveled. Most buildings on South Padre Island were destroyed except the Champion Club, its oldest building. Purdy's pier was destroyed. Also, 90 percent of the structures at Port Mansfield had major damage, while North Beach had 75 percent of its structures suffer major damage. In Corpus Christi, most of the damage was done to signs, trees, fences, shingles off roofs, and broken windows. Many boats in the downtown marina suffered major damage, and many were sunk tied at the docks. Finally, wind damage was also reported in the communities of Norias and Rachal, especially just before and after the eye of Allen passed.

Tornadoes damaged 25 homes in Penita and injured 3 in San Antonio. A total of 34 tornadoes were known to have touched down across South Texas. Tornadoes reported to the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi included the communities of: Norias in Kenedy County, Orangedale in Bee County, Mathis in San Patricio County, and Port Aransas, Corpus Christi and Bishop in Nueces County. Although damage was reported with some of these twisters, no deaths or injuries were reported from the tornadoes. Many funnel clouds were also sighted during Allen.

About 300,000 evacuated. Seven died in Texas and 17 in Louisiana; most in Louisiana died as a helicopter evacuating them from an offshore platform crashed. Two were reported dead in Corpus Christi, while deciding to ride the storm out at North Beach. Damages totaled $1 billion...$40 million on South Padre Island and Port Isabel. Rains from Allen relieved a serious drought in southern Texas.

Click Allen's Complete Track to see the full path this storm took, including a close-up view of Allen's track into Texas.