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Texas Hurricane History

June 26th, 1954 (Alice): This storm quickly developed off Brownsville. It made landfall within 24 hours of formation. Most residents did not know about it until it was upon them. Heavy rains near Langtry resulted in 27.10" of rain at Pandale. This caused the greatest rise on the Rio Grande since 1865. The river rose 30 to 60 feet at Eagle Pass and Laredo. An 86' wall of water rushed down the Pecos River; this washed out a bridge normally 50' above it. The International Bridge at Laredo was also washed out. Most of the death and destruction occurred in Mexico (Ellis 38). September 5-7th, 1955 (Gladys): Gladys struck 140 miles south of Brownsville as a category 1 hurricane on the 5th. The rainfall total at Flour Bluff was 17.02". Corpus Christi saw 7.6" of rain in 24 hours. Tides rose to 4.5'. A circulation center rotating around the eastern periphery of the storm moved onshore on the 7th south of Baffin Bay. Locals to the area named it "Glasscock", after the oil platform 15 miles east of Port Aransas that recorded winds of 83 mph. Winds of 60 mph were seen at Flour Bluff. Damage was confined to the coast. June 27th, 1957 (Audrey): Audrey, the hurricane that Southwest Louisiana will never forget, also made an impact in Southeast Texas on June 27th. Winds gusted to 85 m.p.h. at Port Arthur, where the pressure dropped to 28.52" at 9:23 that morning. Rainfall at Jefferson County Airport reached 7.35", setting a daily rainfall record that still exists today. To the right is a radar image of Audrey prior to landfall, provided courtesy of the Air Force. Moderate damage was reported around Port Arthur to power and phone lines. Trees were uprooted and Highway 87 was damaged. Storm surges of 6 feet or more extended from Galveston eastward into Louisiana. Corpus Christi even saw tides 3-4 feet above normal (Morgan 23). The Mustang Island Park road was washed out between Corpus Christi Pass and Packery Channel. Nine people died in Texas, seven of which resulted from the sinking of the fishing boat Koturah off of Galveston (Morgan 6). Damage was estimated at $8 million. For more information of what Audrey did in Southwest Louisiana, check out the Louisiana Hurricane History section of the Lake Charles NWSO Tropical homepage. July 24th, 1959 (Debra): Debra, a hurricane of non-tropical origin, struck the coast between Freeport and Galveston. The Coast Guard cutter Cahoone measured a pressure of 29.07" late that day. Winds gusted to 105 mph near Freeport. Hurricane force winds were experienced 100 miles inland. Morgan Point saw the highest tide; 7.9 feet above M.S.L.. Orange saw 14.42" of rain. The system set a new daily rainfall record of 3.62" at Nederland. Total damages from Debra were estimated near $6.7 million. June 23rd, 1960 (Unnamed): A tropical storm made landfall on Padre Island with wind gusts to 60 mph. Rain on the Middle Coast caused extensive flooding. Over three days, Port Lavaca recorded 29.76" of rain. Deaths from the flooding totaled 12 in Texas and 3 in Arkansas. September 14th, 1961 (Carla): No list of Texas hurricanes would be complete without the mention of Carla, which made landfall near Port Lavaca. Carla was among the largest hurricanes of historical record (number 2 behind the Great New England Hurricane of 1938). The storm produced many tornadoes, gusts estimated to 175 m.p.h., torrential rains, and a 22 foot storm surge at Port O'Connor. Hurricane force gusts were seen along almost the entire Texas Coast. Winds gusted to 86 mph at Corpus Christi. Her path of devastation inland extended from Victoria to Dallas. The death toll of only 34 in Texas can be attributed in part to what was the largest peace time evacuation of an area in history. A quarter million people fled the middle and upper Texas coasts to move inland to safety. To the left, in red, is a map of counties Carla had its greatest impact upon in Texas. Twenty-six tornadoes were spawned, one of which tore apart 120 buildings and killed 6 in Galveston. Structures outside the seawall were severely damaged by the storm surge. Texas city saw 90% of its homes flooded. Surfside, near Freeport, saw extensive damage. The trail of destruction extended south to Point Isabel, where 4-5 foot storm surges were seen. Port O'Connor was 75% wiped out. The Matagorda Island Air Force Base was virtually swept away. Damage there totaled $18 million. In Jefferson County, 180 miles from the landfalling storm, $17.5 million in damage occurred, with $14 million of it water damage. Rain totaled 19" at Votan. Three to four feet of water flooded Port Arthur. The only injuries reported there were due to snake bites. Total damages were estimated near $400 million. See Louisiana Hurricane History for more fringe effects from this large and destructive hurricane. September 17th, 1963 (Cindy): Hurricane Cindy formed over the northwest Gulf on the 16th along a trough of low pressure. It intensified rapidly, becoming a hurricane by mid-afternoon. It crossed the coast near High Island on the 17th. Winds were estimated at 75 m.p.h. at Sabine Pass. Lowest pressure observed was 29.45" at High Island. Only slight tidal effects were noted. Torrential rains ensued after landfall as the center drifted slowly westward, causing flooding of area rivers and streams. Deweyville reported 22.78" of rain while Orange reported 20.80". Port Arthur received 14.38" of rain on the 17th and 18th, setting new daily rainfall records The flood waters claimed 2 lives, twin 18 month old sisters, on the 22nd. One man drowned when he was evacuating an oil rig south of Cameron. A 4.6 ft. storm surge was measured at the Galveston Ship Channel. Damage was estimated near $13 million. September 20th, 1967 (Beulah): Hurricane Beulah was the third largest hurricane on record, after Carla in 1961 (see above for details on Carla) and the Great New England Hurricane of 1938. The storm traversed the Caribbean Sea from the 8th through mid month. It struck the coast near Brownsville on the 20th, then recurved, paralleling the coastline to the southwest thereafter. To the left is a satellite image of Beulah while lurking southeast of Brownsville. Photo courtesy of NESDIS. Click on it to see an enlarged version. Lowest pressure on land was 28.07" in Brownsville. Winds gusted to 136 m.p.h. on the S. S. Shirley Lykes, located in the Port of Brownsville. Hurricane force winds extended up the coast to Corpus Christi, which received gusts to 86 m.p.h. at 8:35 P.M. on the 20th. Winds gusted to 110 mph at the local Army Corp of Engineers office. The storm surge reached 20 feet along lower sections of Padre Island. Beulah made 31 cuts completely through the island. At Port Isabel, only the new back and the lighthouse escaped any damage. Citrus fruit and tree damage totaled $15 million in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. San Antonio saw horrible flooding with Beulah. At Pettus, in Bee County, rainfall reached 27.38"; some areas saw greater than 30"! At Falfurrias, in Brooks County, more than 25 inches of rain fell; more than falls during a normal year. The San Antonio River went 18.4 feet above flood stage at Goliad, the Lavaca River near Edna crested 5.2 feet above flood stage. The Navidad River at Ganado crested 10.9 feet above flood stage. The area south and east of a Laredo, San Antonio, Matagorda arc was isolated for over a week due to the massive flood. Only 0.04" of rain fell at Nederland. To the left, in red, is a map of counties Beulah affected the most. An amazing 115 tornadoes were spawned by the system, the most ever known to be generated by a tropical storm (5 times the previous record set by Isbell in 1964). Most of the tornadoes were confined to the entire coast of Texas and were rather weak. One killer tornado touched down in Palacios on the morning of the 20th, killing 4 people and injuring 6 more. A tornado near Louise in Wharton County caused one death. Fifteen people died in Texas during Beulah; 5 by tornado, 10 by flood. One hundred ten boats also fell victim to the storm. Damages were estimated conservatively at $100 million.
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