This Day In History: Hurricane Alicia Hits Texas (1983).

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This day in history Hurricane Alicia caused widespread devastation in Texas. This area if the Lone Star State is often struck by serious storms and hurricanes. Alicia was unusually violent and destructive. The storm formed off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico on this day in 1983.  It then crossed the Gulf Coast before it reached land on the Texas Coast. The storm slammed into Texas. The storm took Texas by surprise and it caused some 21 deaths, hundreds  of injuries and possibly cost millions of dollars in damages and insurance claims.

When Alicia hit the Texan City of Galveston,  it took the citizens by surprise.  It was the first hurricane to hit America in several years and Texas has experienced none in some time. The hurricane was a category 3 and had winds of some 110 km an hour. Texas, some gusts were measured at 130 km an hour. The small town of Seabrook, located on the  Galveston Bay had to face a  13-foot storm surge. The tide was estimated at 11 feet wide and this completely flooded the town and many buildings in a recently constructed development.   Alicia also deluged the area with rain and this led to flooding. Houston received 11 inches in a short period of time. However, the flooding was not as severe as expected and this was fortunate.

Hurricane Alicia also set off many tornadoes in southeast Texas. Fourteen were reported in the area between Galveston and Houston in one day.  This was unprecedented and skyscrapers were lashed by these storms. The winds smashed winds and sent shards of glass onto the streets causing some slight injuries and frightening more. On the following day, nine separate twisters were reported due north of Houston

Galveston_-_1900_bodies
Burying the dead in Galveston in 1900

In addition to the 21 people who lost their lives in the storms, many homes were damaged and some had to be abandoned and their owners lost all of their possessions. The emergency services had to rescue many people, especially motorists. The exact damage caused by the storm is not known. It was believed to be a record and a figure of 2 billion dollars is often quoted.  Texas infrastructure was also badly hit and many bridges and roads were made impassable or damaged.  The environmental costs were also immense it is estimated that thousands of trees were blown over. Galveston’s Beach lost tonnes of sand caused by the winds and the high tides. For the most part, though, Galveston’s sea defences successfully defended the city.  It was later believed that the seawall saved the city from destruction such as that which New Orleans experienced in 2005.  The sea-wall had been very costly to build but it had proven its worth.

Galveston had been devasted by a similar strength hurricane once before in 1900. It had left the entire city flooded and approximately 1500 people are believed to have died in the storm, which is regarded as the city’s darkest moment.

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