Galveston Hurricanes
July 14, 2005 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Thanks to no warning time, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 was the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. History (ranked #4 in's Storm's of the Century). Now we can see them coming from their inception. Florida has been getting the recent hurricane headlines, but Texas also has a history. This season has seen an unprecedented number of hurricanes (for so early in the year) and the latest (Emily - already a Category 3) may be taking aim at Texas according to computer models. The Galveston Chamber of Commerce welcomes you! Track all tropical storm and hurricanes (and bone up on hurricane preparedness) at the NHC site. Hurricane basics at National Geographic: Forces of Nature - Hurricanes (FLASH)
posted by spock (7 comments total)
The computer modelled trajectory for Emily just looks bizarre to me. It's so flat and seems to be ready to sweep through the Gulf and the Caribbean along an unusually southern route.

While the articles describe other hurricanes that must have followed similar paths, I've never seen anything like it.

Oh, the USA Today site has a bunch of other cool articles.
Three that I found interesting.

Nice post Spock.
posted by oddman at 9:50 PM on July 14, 2005

Here's a table of the 30 deadliest cyclones in the US. This site has more data on other natural disasters.

I've been reading about the Chicago Heat wave of 1995. Over seven hundred people died and yet few people in Chicago even remember how bad it was because of a major spin job by Daley. In 1999, when we had another heat wave about 100 people died even though the city responded with the emergency plan it had and never used in 1995.

The problem is that heat attacks the isolated and the elderly. In 1995, a large percentage was black males in poor, high crime areas. Heat attacks those already largely forgotten by society. Since these social factors were never addressed the 1999 heat wave still had a large death toll.

The big problem we're facing is that future heat waves will be "More Severe, More Frequent, [and] Longer Lasting." But addressing the most difficult factors of extreme poverty and isolation will take real leadership and I doubt it exists in Chicago's City Hall, but I hear that Millennium Park is real cool...
posted by john at 10:41 PM on July 14, 2005

Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson is one of the few books I've found on the storm. The amount devastation is hard to get a grip on, even with pictures There was no place to bury the dead so they were taken off shore and dumped into the Gulf. And promptly washed ashore again.

Galveston never truly recovered.
posted by beowulf573 at 4:44 AM on July 15, 2005

I was just going to say - Isaac's Storm is a terrific, gripping recounting of the storm with all sorts of interesting digressions into the history of the weather service and how storms are formed and how Galveston was once one of America's major cities but never recovered. Great book.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:13 AM on July 15, 2005

Here's a site with a few photos of the aftermath. I wish they had more of Galveston before the storm, it was quite a different place from what I expected having grown up not too far away.
posted by beowulf573 at 7:27 AM on July 15, 2005

A lot of the houses in Galveston are up on stilts now. Pretty crazy looking, actualy.
posted by delmoi at 9:45 AM on July 15, 2005

I think that although the CNN article is pretty rough on Isaac Cline, the book Isaac's Storm makes the case that he was a product of a weather bureau that was in the business of information control, and knew squat about hurricane dynamics. The Galveston Hurricane passed over Cuba, leading Cuban researchers to predict it's track into Texas. However the American weather service wasn't about to listen to a bunch of dumb Spanish-speaking Cubans, and unfortunately, the Americans controlled the telegraph lines.

Cline's decision was probably strongly influenced by the fact that his superiors believed the storm was following the Gulf Stream north, and a political awareness that blowing a false alarm would have been the end of his career.

Retrospective analysis of records indicate that it was the worst possible combination of geography and storm features: a clear run over the gulf leading to a huge storm surge, the eyewall making landfall at the worst possible spot near Galveston, and a large population living a few feet above sea level.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:16 PM on July 15, 2005

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