Gulf Coast of the United States

Last updated

Gulf Coast
US map-Gulf Coast.svg
States that border the Gulf of Mexico are shown in red.
Coordinates: 30°N90°W / 30°N 90°W / 30; -90 Coordinates: 30°N90°W / 30°N 90°W / 30; -90
Country Flag of the United States.svg  United States
States Flag of Alabama.svg  Alabama
Flag of Florida.svg  Florida
Flag of Louisiana.svg  Louisiana
Flag placeholder.svg  Mississippi
Flag of Texas.svg  Texas
Principal cities Houston
Mobile
New Orleans
Pensacola
Tampa
Gulfport
Largest city Houston
Largest metropolitan area Greater Houston
Population
  Total64,008,345 [1]


The Gulf Coast of the United States is the coastline along the Southern United States where they meet the Gulf of Mexico. The coastal states that have a shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico are Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, and these are known as the Gulf States. [2]

Contents

The economy of the Gulf Coast area is dominated by industries related to energy, petrochemicals, fishing, aerospace, agriculture, and tourism. The large cities of the region are (from west to east) McAllen, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Houston, Galveston, Beaumont, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola, Tallahassee, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and increasingly, Sarasota. All are the centers of their respective metropolitan areas and most contain large ports. (Baton Rouge is relatively far from the Gulf of Mexico; its port is on the Mississippi River, as is the port of New Orleans.)

Geography

Houston is the largest city and urban area along the Gulf Coast Aerial views of the Houston, Texas, skyline in 2014 LCCN2014632225.tif
Houston is the largest city and urban area along the Gulf Coast

The Gulf Coast is made of many inlets, bays, and lagoons. The coast is also intersected by numerous rivers, the largest of which is the Mississippi River. Much of the land along the Gulf Coast is, or was, marshland. Ringing the Gulf Coast is the Gulf Coastal Plain, which reaches from Southern Texas to the western Florida Panhandle, while the western portions of the Gulf Coast are made up of many barrier islands and peninsulas, including the 130-mile (210 km) Padre Island along the Texas coast. These landforms protect numerous bays and inlets providing as a barrier to oncoming waves. The central part of the Gulf Coast, from eastern Texas through Louisiana, consists primarily of marshland. The eastern part of the Gulf Coast, predominantly Florida, is dotted with many bays and inlets.

Climate

Night time astronaut image of the northern Gulf coast. ISS Expedition 25 Night Time Image Of The US Northern Gulf Coast.jpg
Night time astronaut image of the northern Gulf coast.

The Gulf Coast climate is humid subtropical, although the southwestern tip of Florida, such as Everglades City, features a tropical climate. Much of the year is warm to hot along the Gulf Coast, while the 3 winter months bring periods of cool (or rarely, cold) weather mixed with mild temperatures. The area is vulnerable to hurricanes as well as floods and severe thunderstorms. Much of the Gulf Coast has a summer precipitation maximum, with July or August commonly the wettest month due to the combination of frequent summer thunderstorms produced by relentless heat and humidity, and tropical weather systems (tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes), while winter and early spring rainfall also can be heavy. This pattern is evident at Houston, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida. However, the central and southern Florida peninsula and South Texas has a pronounced winter dry season, as at Tampa and Fort Myers, Florida. On the central and southern Texas coast, winter, early spring and mid-summer are markedly drier, and September is the wettest month on average (as at Corpus Christi and Brownsville, Texas). Tornadoes are infrequent at the coast but do occur; however, they occur more frequently in inland portions of Gulf Coast states. Over most of the Gulf Coast from Houston, Texas eastward, extreme rainfall events are a significant threat, commonly from tropical weather systems, which can bring 4 to 10 or more inches of rain in a single day. In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the central Texas coast, then migrated to and stalled over the greater Houston area for several days, producing extreme, unprecedented rainfall totals of over 40 inches (1,000 mm) in many areas, unleashing widespread flooding. Earthquakes are extremely rare to the area, but a surprising 6.0 earthquake in the Gulf of Mexico on September 10, 2006, could be felt from the cities of New Orleans to Tampa.

Economic activities

NOAA map of the 3,856 oil and gas platforms extant off the Gulf Coast in 2006. Gulf Coast Platforms.jpg
NOAA map of the 3,856 oil and gas platforms extant off the Gulf Coast in 2006.

The Gulf Coast is a major center of economic activity. The marshlands along the Louisiana and Texas coasts provide breeding grounds and nurseries for ocean life that drive the fishing and shrimping industries. The Port of South Louisiana (Metropolitan New Orleans in Laplace) and the Port of Houston are two of the ten busiest ports in the world by cargo volume. [3] As of 2004, seven of the top ten busiest ports in the U.S. are on the Gulf Coast. [4]

The discovery of oil and gas deposits along the coast and offshore, combined with easy access to shipping, have made the Gulf Coast the heart of the U.S. petrochemical industry. The coast contains nearly 4,000 oil platforms.

Besides the above, the region features other important industries including aerospace and biomedical research, as well as older industries such as agriculture and — especially since the development of the Gulf Coast beginning in the 1920s and the increase in wealth throughout the United States tourism.

History

Map of the Louisiana Purchase United States 1803-04-1804-03.png
Map of the Louisiana Purchase

Before Europeans arrived in the region, the region was home to several pre-Columbian kingdoms that had extensive trade networks with empires such as the Aztecs and the Mississippi Mound Builders. Shark and alligator teeth and shells from the Gulf have been found as far north as Ohio, in the mounds of the Hopewell culture. [5]

The first Europeans to settle the Gulf Coast were primarily the French and the Spanish. The Louisiana Purchase, Adams–Onís Treaty and the Texas Revolution made the Gulf Coast a part of the United States during the first half of the 19th century. As the U.S. population continued to expand its frontiers westward, the Gulf Coast was a natural magnet in the South providing access to shipping lanes and both national and international commerce. The development of sugar and cotton production (enabled by slavery) allowed the South to prosper. By the mid 19th century the city of New Orleans, being situated as a key to commerce on the Mississippi River and in the Gulf, had become the largest U.S. city not on the Atlantic seaboard and the fourth largest in the U.S. overall.

Two major events were turning points in the earlier history of the Gulf Coast region. The first was the American Civil War, which caused severe damage to some economic sectors in the South, including the Gulf Coast. The second event was the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. At the end of the 19th century Galveston was, with New Orleans, one of the most developed cities in the region. The city had the third busiest port in the U.S. [6] and its financial district was known as the "Wall Street of the South". [7] The storm mostly destroyed the city, which has never regained its former glory, and set back development in the region.

Hurricane Katrina Hurricane Katrina August 28 2005 NASA.jpg
Hurricane Katrina

Since then the Gulf Coast has been hit with numerous other hurricanes. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane. It was the most damaging storm in the history of the United States, causing upwards of $80 billion in damages, and leaving over 1,800 dead. Again in 2008 the Gulf Coast was struck by a catastrophic hurricane. Due to its immense size, Hurricane Ike caused devastation from the Louisiana coastline all the way to the Kenedy County, Texas region near Corpus Christi. [8] In addition, Ike caused flooding and significant damage along the Mississippi coastline and the Florida Panhandle [9] Ike killed 112 people and left upwards of 300 people missing, never to be found. [10] Hurricane Ike was the third most damaging storm in the history of the United States, causing more than $25 billion [11] in damage along the coast, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless, and sparking the largest search-and-rescue operation in U.S. history. [12]

Other than the hurricanes, the Gulf Coast has redeveloped dramatically over the course of the 20th century. The gulf coast is highly populated. The petrochemical industry, launched with the major discoveries of oil in Texas and spurred on by further discoveries in the Gulf waters, has been a vehicle for development in the central and western Gulf which has spawned development on a variety of fronts in these regions. Texas in particular has benefited tremendously from this industry over the course of the 20th century and economic diversification has made the state a magnet for population and home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other U.S. state. Florida has grown as well, driven to a great extent by its long established tourism industry but also by its position as a gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America. As of 2006, these two states are the second and fourth most populous states in the nation, respectively (see this article). Other areas of the Gulf Coast have benefited less, though economic development fueled by tourism has greatly increased property values along the coast, and is now a severe danger to the valuable but fragile ecosystems of the Gulf Coast.

Metropolitan areas

The following table lists the 15 largest MSAs along the Gulf Coast.

Metropolitan Statistical Areas on the United States Gulf Coast
RankMetropolitan Statistical Area2016 Pop (est.)2000 PopΔ PopCombined Statistical Area
1 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX MSA 6,772,4704,715,407 Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX CSA
2 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA 3,032,1712,395,997
3 New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA MSA 1,268,8831,316,510 New Orleans-Metairie-Bogalusa, LA CSA
4 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX MSA 849,843569,463 primary census statistical area
5 Baton Rouge MSA 835,175729,361
6 North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL MSA 788,457589,959 Sarasota-Bradenton-Punta Gorda, FL CSA
7 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL MSA 722,336440,888
8 Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL MSA 485,684412,153
9 Corpus Christi, TX MSA 454,726403,280 Corpus Christi-Kingsville, TX CSA
11 Mobile, AL MSA 414,836399,843 Mobile-Daphne-Fairhope, AL CSA
10 Brownsville–Harlingen, TX MSA 422,135335,227
12 Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX MSA 409,968385,090
14 Naples-Marco Island, FL MSA 318,537251,377
13 Gulfport-Biloxi, MS MSA 365,136246,190 Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS CSA
15 Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, LA MSA 211,525194,477

Transportation

Road

Major Interstates

I-45 and I-10/U.S. 90 near Downtown Houston 45intoI-10 2.jpg
I-45 and I-10/U.S. 90 near Downtown Houston
HighwaySignificant Cities Served
I-2.svg Interstate 2 Harlingen, McAllen
I-4.svg Interstate 4 Tampa
I-10.svg Interstate 10 Houston, Baytown, Beaumont, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola
I-37.svg Interstate 37 Corpus Christi
I-45.svg Interstate 45 Galveston, Houston
I-49.svg Interstate 49 New Orleans (future), Houma (future), Thibodaux (future), Lafayette
I-55.svg Interstate 55 Hammond
I-65.svg Interstate 65 Mobile
I-69.svg Interstate 69 Victoria (future), Houston
I-69E.svg Interstate 69E Brownsville, Harlingen, Corpus Christi, Victoria (future)
I-69W.svg Interstate 69W Victoria (future)
I-75.svg Interstate 75 Naples, Fort Myers, North Port, Sarasota, Bradenton, St. Petersburg, Tampa

Major U.S. routes

HighwaySignificant Cities Served
US 11.svg U.S. 11 New Orleans
US 17.svg U.S. 17 Punta Gorda
US 19.svg U.S. 19 St. Petersburg, Tampa
US 29.svg U.S. 29 Pensacola
US 31.svg U.S. 31 Spanish Fort
US 41.svg U.S. 41 Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Bradenton, St. Petersburg, Tampa
US 43.svg U.S. 43 Mobile
US 45.svg U.S. 45 Mobile
US 49.svg U.S. 49 Biloxi, Gulfport
US 51.svg U.S. 51 Hammond
US 59.svg U.S. 59 Houston, Victoria
US 61.svg U.S. 61 New Orleans
US 69.svg U.S. 69 Beaumont, Port Arthur
US 77.svg U.S. 77 Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Victoria
US 83.svg U.S. 83 Brownsville, Harlingen
US 87.svg U.S. 87 Port Lavaca, Victoria
US 90.svg U.S. 90 Beaumont, Biloxi, Crestview, Houma, Houston, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Mobile, New Orleans, Pascagoula, Pensacola, Thibodaux
US 92.svg U.S. 92 St. Petersburg, Tampa
US 96.svg U.S. 96 Beaumont, Port Arthur
US 98.svg U.S. 98 Fort Walton Beach, Mobile, Pensacola, Panama City

Other significant routes

HighwaySignificant Cities Served
Louisiana 1.svg LA 1 Grand Isle, Port Fourchon, Thibodaux
Florida 85.svg S.R. 85 Crestview, Fort Walton Beach
Texas 35.svg S.H. 35 Houston, Bay City, Port Lavaca, Rockport, Corpus Christi
Texas 288.svg S.H. 288 Houston, Lake Jackson, Freeport

Air

International service

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport ArmstrongAirportJune2007.jpg
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

International Destinations

George Bush Intercontinental Airport - Houston Flag of Argentina.svg Argentina, Flag of the Bahamas.svg Bahamas, Flag of Belize.svg Belize, Flag of Bonaire.svg Bonaire, Flag of Brazil.svg Brazil, Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada, Flag of the Cayman Islands.svg Cayman Islands, Flag of Chile.svg Chile, Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China, Flag of Colombia.svg Colombia, Flag of Costa Rica.svg Costa Rica, Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg Dominican Republic, Flag of Ecuador.svg Ecuador, Flag of El Salvador.svg El Salvador, Flag of France.svg France, Flag of Germany.svg Germany, Flag of Guatemala.svg Guatemala, Flag of Honduras (2008 Olympics).svg Honduras, Flag of Jamaica.svg Jamaica, Flag of Japan.svg Japan, Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico, Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands, Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand, Flag of Nicaragua.svg Nicaragua, Flag of Nigeria.svg Nigeria, Flag of Norway.svg Norway, Flag of Panama.svg Panama, Flag of Peru.svg Peru, Flag of Qatar.svg Qatar, Flag of Russia.svg Russia, Flag of Singapore.svg Singapore, Flag of Trinidad and Tobago.svg Trinidad and Tobago, Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey, Flag of the Turks and Caicos Islands.svg Turks and Caicos Islands, Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg UAE, Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom, Flag of Venezuela.svg Venezuela
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada, Flag of Cuba.svg Cuba, [13] Flag of Germany.svg Germany, Flag of Honduras (2008 Olympics).svg Honduras, Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico, Flag of Panama.svg Panama, Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Southwest Florida International Airport Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada, Flag of Germany.svg Germany
Tampa International Airport Flag of the Bahamas.svg Bahamas, Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada, Flag of the Cayman Islands.svg Cayman Islands, Flag of Cuba.svg Cuba, Flag of Germany.svg Germany, Flag of Iceland.svg Iceland, Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico, Flag of Panama.svg Panama, Flag of Switzerland.svg Switzerland, Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
William P. Hobby Airport - Houston Flag of Aruba.svg Aruba, Flag of Belize.svg Belize, Flag of the Cayman Islands.svg Cayman Islands, Flag of Costa Rica.svg Costa Rica, Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg Dominican Republic, Flag of Jamaica.svg Jamaica, Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico

Rail

Amtrak service

Sunset Limited in Houston. Amtrak 146 GE P42DC.jpg
Sunset Limited in Houston.
TrainRouteGulf Coast Cities Served
City of New Orleans Chicago to New Orleans New Orleans
Crescent New York to New Orleans New Orleans, Picayune, MS, Slidell, LA
Sunset Limited Los Angeles to Orlando (temporarily New Orleans) Bay St. Louis, MS , Beaumont, TX, Biloxi , Crestview, FL , Gulfport, MS , Houston, Lafayette, LA, Lake Charles, LA, Baton Rouge, LA, Mobile , New Orleans, Panama City, FL , Scriever, LA, Pascagoula, MS , Pensacola

See also

Notes

  1. "Gulf States 2020" . Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  2. For example: "Gulf Coast Energy Outlook" (PDF) (Spring 2017 ed.). Center for Energy Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 14, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2018 via Economics & Policy Research Group., p. 1 (" Unless stated otherwise, Gulf Coast hereafter specifically refers to the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida").
  3. Rosenberg, Matt (June 14, 2003). "Busiest Ports in the World" . Retrieved October 15, 2006.
  4. Rosenberg, Matt (June 14, 2003). "Waterborne Commerce Statistics: Tonnage for Selected U.S. Ports in 2004". Archived from the original on November 17, 2006. Retrieved October 15, 2006.
  5. Nash, Gary B. Red, White and Black: The Peoples of Early North America Los Angeles 2015. Chapter 1, p. 6
  6. "The 1900 Storm". Archived from the original on July 11, 2006. Retrieved July 11, 2006.
  7. "Galveston, Texas History". Galveston.com. Retrieved October 15, 2007.
  8. "Evacuation and Devastation in Southern Texas". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  9. "Flooding in Miss. and FL". USA Today. September 11, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  10. "Ike missing". www.cnn.com. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  11. Robbie Berg (January 23, 2009). "Hurricane Ike Tropical Cyclone Report" (PDF). NHC. Retrieved September 12, 2009.
  12. Ike Evacuation and Rescue Operation Archived 2013-12-02 at the Wayback Machine
  13. "New Orleans airport is one of eight given approval for Cuba flights" . Retrieved January 3, 2012.

Further reading

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The 1920 Louisiana hurricane was a strong tropical cyclone that caused significant damage in parts of Louisiana in September 1920. The second tropical storm and hurricane of the annual hurricane season, it formed from an area of disturbed weather on September 16, 1920, northwest of Colombia. The system remained a weak tropical depression as it made landfall on Nicaragua, but later intensified to tropical storm strength as it moved across the Gulf of Honduras, prior to making a second landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula. Once in the Gulf of Mexico, the storm quickly intensified as it moved towards the north-northwest, reaching its peak intensity as a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 100 mph (160 km/h) prior to making landfall near Houma, Louisiana with no change in intensity. Afterwards, it quickly weakened over land, before dissipating on September 23 over eastern Kansas.

<i>Racer</i>s hurricane Category 3 Atlantic hurricane in 1837

Racer's hurricane was a destructive tropical cyclone that had severe effects in northeastern Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and the Gulf Coast of the United States in early October 1837. It takes its name from the Royal Navy ship HMS Racer, which encountered the cyclone in the northwestern Caribbean Sea. Termed "one of the most famous and destructive hurricanes of the century" by meteorology historian David Ludlum, the storm first affected Jamaica with flooding rainfall and strong winds on September 26 and 27, before entering the Gulf of Mexico by October 1. As the hurricane struck northern Tamaulipas and southern Texas, it slowed to a crawl and turned sharply northeastward. The storm battered the Gulf Coast from Texas to the Florida Panhandle between October 3 and 7. After crossing the Southeastern United States, it emerged into the Atlantic shipping lanes off the Carolinas by October 9.