History of Texas Gulf Coast hurricanes

The hurricane history of the Texas Gulf Coast begins with the deadliest storm ever recorded in the U.S. -- the great storm of 1900 in Galveston. The Category 4 hurricane ripped through the island, flooding it with a 15-foot storm surge. Almost every structure was destroyed or damaged. With no sophisticated warning system, the U.S. weather bureau urged people to seek higher ground but the warning went largely ignored, which led to the deaths of almost 8,000 people. 

The second-worst storm to ever strike Texas was Hurricane Carla in 1961. The massive Category Four storm made landfall near Corpus Christi, but the upper Texas coast took a beating too. More than a hundred buildings in Galveston were destroyed. The hurricane was so large that Its impact was felt in Beaumont, 180 miles from landfall. Carla caused almost a half-billion dollars in damage.

The Gulf Coast remained relatively quiet until 1983 when record-setting Hurricane Alicia barreled through Galveston as a Category Three storm with winds of 115 mph. It was the the costliest tropical weather event to date in Texas as it caused almost two billion dollars in damages. 21 people were killed and 2,000 homes were destroyed, leaving almost one million people without power for days. Alicia was the biggest test yet for the Galveston seawall, which held firm and saved the coast from even more devastation.

One of the worst storms to ever hit southeast Texas in terms of rainfall was not a hurricane. Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 sat over the Houston area for days, dumping as much as 40 inches of rain in some places.
The worst flooding was in Houston where 70,000 homes were flooded, along with businesses and hospitals.
23 people died in Texas from the storm, most of them from drowning. It caused $9 billion dollars in damages.
Allison was the first tropical storm to have its name retired without ever reaching hurricane strength.

With the nightmarish images of Hurricane Katrina still fresh in the minds of Houston-area residents in 2005, millions of them tried to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Rita. It was a monster Category 5 hurricane that appeared to be headed straight for Houston. Every evacuation route from I-45 to State Highway 146 was pushed over capacity with evacuees running out of fuel or having overheated vehicles, forcing them to sleep along the highways. Rita finally made landfall on Sept. 24, well east of Houston near Sabine Pass as a Category Three hurricane. The greatest impacts on Houston were toppled trees, scattered power outages and empty fuel stations.

Hurricane Ike slammed the Gulf Coast near Galveston in the early morning hours of Sept. 13, 2008 as a strong Category Two storm with wind speeds of 110 mph. The devastating storm surge surpassed 20 feet in some places. The storm smashed coastal homes, flooded thousands of other homes and knocked out power to millions of customers for weeks. Almost 50 people were killed in Texas and with almost $30 billion in damages, it remains the third costliest hurricane in U.S. history behind Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

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