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Texas Hurricane History:
Late 19th Century
National Weather Service
Lake Charles, LA
June 25th, 1851: A short yet severe storm passed over
Matagorda Bay and was described as the most disastrous experienced as of that
time. Salt water contaminated the water supply at Saluria on Matagorda Island.
Every wharf at Port Lavaca was destroyed by the wind. Indianola suffered damage
to buildings on the Bay, but the storm surge did not cover the spit of land it
stood upon, creating a false sense of security. Victoria citizens were "greatly
annoyed" that all their mail was swept into Matagorda Bay.
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. Saluria suffered $20,000 in damage. 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. Every wharf in Matagorda Bay was carried away.
The storm surge went through with such force that the channel was straightened
and deepened by two feet. Many small vessels capsized. The little steamer Nick
Hill went down near Dollar Point, in Galveston Bay. The steamer Kate Ward and
her crew proved a total loss. The system then moved northwest over Columbus, and in its dissipating stage
became a widespread rainstorm over the Western and Central Gulf Coast causing
5.55" of rain at Baton Rouge between the 17th and 21st with rain falling as
far east as Pensacola. Four lives were lost in the town of Matagorda.
September 13th, 1865: A hurricane hit Southwestern
Louisiana. At Bagdad, near the Mouth of the Rio Grande, backwater flooding and
swells from the storm inundated town. The schooner Lone Star was wrecked near
Redfish Bar on Galveston Bay, in nine feet of water. By the time the steamer
Nashua was sent in search of survivors, the Lone Star had gone to pieces.
Survivors were scattered widely across the area. One of the sloops almost
foundered itself in the high winds. All cargo of the Lone Star was lost. For
what the storm did in Louisiana, check out our
July 15th, 1866: A tropical storm struck Port O'Connor.
It was considered severe, but no lives or buildings were lost. For what this
storm did along the Louisiana Coast, go no further than our
During the Civil War, most of the Confederacy's cotton was shipped out
of South Texas and Mexico. Two communities at the mouth of the Rio Grande
boomed because of this commerce, particularly the town of Baghdad on the Mexican
side of the river, which grew to a population of several thousand. Clarksville,
on the U.S.. side, was much smaller. Baghdad had a reputation for lusty living
and was compared to New Orleans in its style.
On October 2nd-3rd, 1867, An intense hurricane struck the
mouth of the Rio Grande with great fury and devastated both cities. Clarksville
was soon abandoned, and a later storm in 1874 finished off Baghdad. A few glass
and metal relics buried in the sand are all that remain of both towns. The
population at their peaks totaled over 20,000.
All wharves were nearly demolished. It was considered the most severe and
disastrous in the city's history, up to that time. Galveston was inundated by
the storm surge on the 3rd, which was measured at 1 foot higher than the 1854
storm. All wharves were nearly demolished. Mud slides buried Matamoros.
This storm followed a path similar to the Racer's Storm, and produced
great damage along the entire coast. It is regarded as the first "million
dollar" hurricane in Texas. In an editorial after the storm in the "Ranchero,"
a Brownsville newspaper that evolved into the present day Brownsville Herald,
the editor asked the question, "What would happen if a similar storm struck
Galveston directly as it had the lower coast?"
August 16, 1869: A hurricane struck the lower Texas
coast, doing the most damage at Refugio and Indianola. Several houses were
blown off their foundations in Rockport, St. Mary's, and Saluria. The storm
surge invaded Indianola, leaving water in the streets that was one foot deep.
Limited damage was also seen at Corpus Christi.
June 2-3rd, 1871: Hurricane struck the Texas coast. Lowest
pressure at Galveston was 29.51" and 15.57" of rain fell during the
storm. Port Aransas recorded an extraordinary high tide and gale force winds.
June 9th, 1871: This hurricane moved through East Texas. In
Galveston, it wrecked many ships and leveled St. Patrick church. Several houses
were leveled and the east end of the Island flooded. Winds blew the roof off
the Catholic church in Refugio, killing one person. The Virginia Dare grounded
on the outer sandbar off the beach of Galveston. Its crew was rescued.
September 30th-October 2nd, 1871: The third hurricane affect
Texas that season moved just offshore the length of the coast. A ship named the
S.S.. Hall sunk during the storm; all hands were lost. On Mustang Island, it
was the severest gale in 16 years. Tides at Indianola were the highest since
1844; most of the town flooded. The jail at Lavaca was washed away. Many
people died in the tempest.
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* Author's current affiliation: NWS National Centers for
Environmental Prediction - Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, Camp Springs,
|Paper last modified: March 10, 2000
Page last modified: April 23, 2003