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In 1983, Hurricane Alicia made landfall in Galveston as a Category 3 storm.
It was the first major hurricane to hit Texas in more than 20 years. The storm caused extensive damage and resulted in 21 deaths.
Originating from a disturbance in the northern Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Alicia rapidly took the form of a tropical storm and made landfall in the Greater Houston area of southeast Texas. Even though the hurricane was comparatively small in size, it caused significant destruction in its wake. Later, when the situation was under control, it was observed that Alicia was by far the costliest Atlantic hurricane of the time, with a damage toll of $3 bn (£2.3 bn).
On August 14, 1983, a tropical storm formed in Mexico and became known as Alicia. With time, it kept strengthening and became a Category Three major hurricane on August 17, where it had reached the south-western end of Galveston Island. From there, the storm moved towards East Texas, and on its way passed west of Downtown Houston. On August 20, 1983, Alicia moved over Oklahoma and, the following day, it passed through Nebraska before dissipating completely.
After hurricane Allen hit South Texas in 1980, the United States enjoyed its longest hurricane-free period in the 20th century (lasting more than three years). As the first hurricane after Allen, Alicia broke the country's peaceful run and became the most destructive hurricane of the time. The hurricane warning was followed by the evacuation of up to 80,000 coastal people from the coasts of Louisiana and south-east Texas. It is recorded that, during the storm, a 12 ft (3.7 m) high tide flooded nearby communities and sank multiple ships. However, most of the damage came from extremely strong winds that hit the south-western area of Galveston Island at a speed of 130 mph (210 kph). It was the first time after Hurricane Anita (1977) that the United States faced a major hurricane that originated in the Gulf of Mexico.
Hurricane Alicia is considered one of the most-destructive storms in the history of the United States, as it destroyed thousands of buildings and houses across Texas. Such was its intensity that the Government set aside $23 m (£17.6m) just for picking up debris spread by the storm. In addition to all these, 7,288 casualties and 21 fatalities were caused by Hurricane Alicia in mid-1983. Some figures quote that the damage ended up costing the U.S. Government up to $1.65 bn (£1.2bn).
In this article, we will take a look at the impact of Hurricane Alicia, the rescue efforts mounted after the storm, and its magnitudes well as the areas the storm hit. We will also explore some lesser-known facts about Hurricane Alicia.
Alicia caused widespread damage when it made landfall in Galveston, Texas, on August 18, 1983, but what was its impact on the community?
The hurricane had a windspeed that reached up to 115 mi per hour (24.12 km per hour) and a storm surge of up to 12 ft (3.6 m). More than 750,000 people were left without power and 21 people were killed. Hurricane Alicia also caused billions of dollars in damage. Let's see in what other ways this storm affected the country.
The storm surge went up to 70 mi (113 km) into the state of Texas. In Galveston, the wind speed averaged 102 mi per hour (164 km per hour) and exceeded this in areas that were sparsely populated. It is recorded that every building in Galveston County, Texas, suffered damage of varied intensity due to the landfall. While some houses faced minor issues like torn roofs, complete destruction befell others, and the most severe damage took place in the western part of the county. For several days, power and telecommunications were downed in the county, while the walls and windows of several hotels collapsed due to high gusts.
In Jamaica Beach, storm surges heavily damaged more than 50 houses, while the high rainfall of 8 in (20.3 cm) destroyed a mobile-home community and caused street flooding. Apartment complexes, schools, and mobile homes located in the inland portions of Galveston County suffered significant wind damage. The League City in Texas suffered from a damage toll of $100 m, most of which stemmed from roof damage.
Reports state that around 1,530 people were injured and seven people died in Harris County due to drowning, automobile crashes, and fallen trees caused by the hurricane. Winds as fast as 81 mph (130 kph) and gusts that peaked at 99 mph (159 kph) caused severe damage to Houston's William P. Hobby Airport costing $1.5 m (£1.2 m), including damage to several hangars, small aircraft, airport windows, and metal structures. Houston Intercontinental Airport also suffered similar damage when an airplane was severed from its ties and two terminal roofs underwent minor damage.
Wind-blown debris and gravel heavily damaged skyscrapers in Downtown Houston and the lower 40 floors of almost all these buildings were shattered.
More than 20 major roads were blocked by wind-blown debris and water. Most of the damage in Clear Lake, Baytown, and Pasadena came from flooding caused by heavy rainfall, which reached 10 ft (3 m) in one district of Baytown. While nearly half the houses in Crystal Beach were destroyed, Harris County suffered $6 m (£4.6 m) damage in pecan crop losses and $4.5 m (£3.5 m) in cotton losses. The total damage for the county is estimated to have cost around $46 m (£35 m). Nearly 200 trees around Johnson Space Center were toppled by the hurricane, though the institution did not receive much damage except for a few broken doors and windows.
After the storm had passed, rescue workers went into action to help those who had been affected by Hurricane Alicia, with the Red Cross setting up shelters for those who had been displaced by the storm. Read on to find out how the government and other institutions restored areas affected by the storm, to help people get back on their feet.
According to reports, $32 m (£25 m) (adjusted for inflation, around $83.1 m (£64 m) in today's money) was given out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to local government and people affected by the storm. Are than 16,000 people approached FEMA's disaster service centers to seek help. The Red Cross provided shelter and food to 63,000 people, the Small Business Administration interviewed more than 16,000 people, and it was predicted that around 7,000 people would apply for a loan. More than 1,318 flood insurance cases have been closed by the Federal Insurance Agency, though it is believed that final payment was provided to only 782 people.
After the storm was over, two hearings were convened by two subcommittees of the U. S. House of Representatives. The first one took place on September 23, 1983, and discussed the effectiveness of National Weather Service (NWS) procedures during the storm. In this hearing, many witnesses expressed their satisfaction with the NWS, especially Mayor Manuel, the Mayor of Galveston Island. The second hearing took place on the next day, and it primarily focused on damage and recovery efforts during the hurricane.
In the spring of 1984, the World Meteorological Organization retired the name 'Alicia' due to the severe damages caused by the storm. It was declared that the name would never again be used for another Atlantic hurricane. 'Alicia' was replaced by 'Allison', which was also retired by the organization after the 2001 session.
Before the hurricane started, there were multiple warnings, starting from August 16, given to several places, starting from Corpus Christi to Grand Isle. The next day, hurricane warnings were issued for Morgan City in Louisiana and Port Arthur in Texas.
It is said that at first, Hurricane Alicia was not taken seriously. As a result, only 10% of the total population of Galveston was evacuated, while the percentage had been significantly higher (30%) in 1980 when Hurricane Allen made landfall on the Texas Coast. Going against the advice of Texas Governor Mark White, the Mayor of Galveston Island at the time, E. Gus Manuel, only evacuated people living in low-lying areas. However, as the situation worsened on August 17, Mayor Manuel ordered widespread evacuation, but it was already too late, and the bridges connected to the mainland had already become uncrossable.
Now we have found out some fascinating facts about the impact of Hurricane Alicia and the recovery efforts in its aftermath, let's look at the trail of destruction the storm left in its wake.
Alicia was the first hurricane to strike Texas after Hurricane Allen (in 1980), and it was the most destructive one since Hurricane Carla (in 1961). Nearly 80,000 people were evacuated from the coasts of Chambers, Brazoria, Harris Counties, and Galveston Island. Even though the storm fell upon Texas, it was not the only state to suffer the impact of Hurricane Alicia.
The areas along the Texas coast between Sabine Pass and High Island suffered a good deal of damage, with uncountable power lines downed for a long time, and the roads flooded by storm surges. However, houses and buildings located in this area only sustained window and roof damage. In Chambers County, the condition was much worse, and more than 200 houses and buildings were flooded forcing a huge number of people to move to shelters. Up to 50% of the county's soybean and rice crops were destroyed, too. The total damage, when added up later, peaked at $24 m (£18.4 m).
At Greens Bayou 9.95 in (25.3 cm) rain fell, which is considered to be the most amount of precipitation that has ever fallen in the state of Texas. Around three inches to five inches (7.6 cm - 12.7 cm) of rain fell in Hardin County, causing the Pine Island Bayou to overflow its banks. As a result, adjacent areas remained underwater for a week. On the other side, the Neches River and Cow Bayou also overflowed their banks and flooded Jefferson County, where the roads remained blocked for a good amount of time. The place also suffered widespread power outages affecting more than 10,000 homes in Sabine Pass and Port Arthur areas. Liberty County was also heavily affected, with heavy rainfall and strong winds damaging a huge amount of the county's crops (estimated to be more than $10 m (£7.7 m) in losses).
Widespread damage to mobile homes, cars, and roofs occurred in eastern Brazoria County due to strong winds. The city of Freeport experienced total damage of $1 m (£770,000) including several aircraft at the Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport that was partially destroyed by the storm. Fort Bend County suffered an extensive power outage due to the hurricane, affecting 65% of houses and buildings in Danbury, Texas. Also, it was recorded that, near Galveston Bay, an oil spill (from a ruptured tank) took place.
Hurricane Alicia produced a total of 22 tornadoes across the state of Texas. Even though most of them were weak and brief, one F1 tornado damaged two businesses in Harris County near the intersection of Texas State Highway NASA Road and Interstate 45, and another F2 tornado was responsible for a great deal of damage in North Texas. Along with this tornado, Hurricane Alicia caused much damage to North Texas. For example, strong winds downed powerlines for days, toppled trees, and destroyed outbuildings in Panola County. In Dallas, wind gusts peaked at 80 mph to 100 mph (130kph - 160 kph) damaging buildings and homes throughout the city. In addition, it was reported that a freeway sign fell on two 18-wheeler trucks, killing one driver. Thankfully, the other driver survived.
Besides Texas, the state of Oklahoma saw heavy rainfall of four inches to seven inches (100mm - 180 mm). It is reported that several buildings at the University of Oklahoma were flooded by rainwater. Louisiana also felt the impact of Hurricane Alicia (mainly through heavy rainfall), though it did not experience much damage.
When did Hurricane Alicia hit Texas?
Alicia turned into a tropical storm on August 14, 1983, and made landfall on the Texas Coast on August 18.
What are six interesting facts about hurricanes?
Here are six interesting facts about hurricanes.
They are primarily tropical storms.
The name 'hurricane' is derived from the word 'Huracan', the god of storms, wind, and fire who was worshipped by the Mayans.
Hurricanes are also called cyclones and typhoons, depending on where they occur. In the Atlantic Ocean, they are hurricanes, in the Northwest Pacific they are typhoons, and in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean they are cyclones.
In the northern and southern hemispheres, hurricanes spin in different directions (anti-clockwise in the first one, clockwise in the latter one).
Based on their origin and intensity, hurricanes can range from 100 mi - 1,000 mi (160.9 km - 1,609.3 km).
Most major hurricanes form over the ocean.
What was the worst hurricane in the United States?
The Great Galveston Hurricane in 1900 is considered to be the deadliest storm.
What year was Hurricane Alicia in Houston?
Hurricane Alicia was formed in 1983 in the Gulf of Mexico., and spread to Houston, TX.
What time did Hurricane Alicia make landfall?
Hurricane Alicia struck the Texas Coast on August 18, 1983, around 2 a.m.
What caused Hurricane Alicia?
A disturbance formed in the tail-end of a cold front over the Gulf of Mexico created Hurricane Alicia.
Where did Hurricane Alicia hit?
Hurricane Alicia hit the southwestern part of Galveston Island, Tx, on August 18, 1983.
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