Hurricane Alicia

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Hurricane Alicia
Category 3 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Alicia 1983-08-17 2131Z.png
Hurricane Alicia at Category 2 intensity while rapidly intensifying off the Texas coast on the afternoon of August 17
FormedAugust 15, 1983 (August 15, 1983)
DissipatedAugust 21, 1983 (August 21, 1983)
( Extratropical after August 20)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:115 mph (185 km/h)
Lowest pressure962 mbar (hPa); 28.41 inHg
Fatalities21 total
Damage$3 billion (1983 USD)
Areas affected Texas (particularly the Greater Houston area), Oklahoma
Part of the 1983 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Alicia was a small but powerful tropical cyclone that caused significant destruction in the Greater Houston area of Southeast Texas in August 1983. Although Alicia was a relatively small hurricane, its track over the rapidly growing metropolitan area contributed to its $3 billion damage toll, making it the costliest Atlantic hurricane at the time. Alicia spawned from a disturbance that originated from the tail-end of a cold front over the northern Gulf of Mexico in mid-August 1983. The cyclone was named on August 14 when it became a tropical storm, and the combination of weak steering currents and a conducive environment allowed Alicia to quickly intensify as it drifted slowly westward. On August 17, Alicia became a hurricane and continued to strengthen, topping out as a Category 3 major hurricane as it made landfall on the southwestern end of Galveston Island, Texas. Alicia's eye passed just west of Downtown Houston as the system accelerated northwestwards across East Texas; Alicia eventually weakened into a remnant area of low pressure over Oklahoma on August 20 before they were last noted on August 21 over eastern Nebraska.

Tropical cyclone Is a rotating storm system

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean; in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as "tropical cyclones" or "severe cyclonic storms".

Greater Houston Metropolitan area in Texas, United States

Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land is the fifth-most populous metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the United States, encompassing nine counties along the Gulf Coast in southeastern Texas. With a population of 6,490,180 people as of the 2010 United States Census, the MSA is the second-most populous in Texas after the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. Colloquially referred to as Greater Houston, the 10,000-square-mile (26,000 km2) region centers on Harris County, the third-most populous county in the nation, which contains the city of Houston—the largest economic and cultural center of the South—with a population of 2.3 million. Greater Houston is part of the Texas Triangle megaregion along with the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, Greater Austin, and Greater San Antonio.

Southeast Texas

Southeast Texas is a sub-region of East Texas located in the southeast corner of the U.S. state of Texas. The sub-region is geographically centered on the Houston–Sugar Land–The Woodlands, and Beaumont–Port Arthur metropolitan areas.


Alicia was the first hurricane to make landfall on the United States since Hurricane Allen struck South Texas in August  1980 over three years prior, ending the longest period of the twentieth century without a landfalling hurricane on the U.S. coast. Alicia's approach precipitated the evacuation of 60–80 thousand people from coastal communities along the coasts of Southeast Texas and Louisiana. Along the coast, a 12 ft (3.7 m) storm tide flooded communities, with the rough surf sinking several ships and resulting in three offshore fatalities. Most of the damage attributed to the storm was caused by strong winds estimated to have peaked at 130 mph (210 km/h) in southwestern Galveston Island.

Hurricane Allen Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in 1980

Hurricane Allen was a rare and extremely powerful Cape Verde hurricane that struck the Caribbean, eastern and northern Mexico, and southern Texas in August 1980. The first named storm and first tropical cyclone of the 1980 Atlantic hurricane season, it was one of the strongest hurricanes in recorded history. It was one of the few hurricanes to reach Category 5 status on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale on three separate occasions, and spent more time as a Category 5 than all but two other Atlantic hurricanes. Allen is the only hurricane in the recorded history of the Atlantic basin to achieve sustained winds of 190 mph (305 km/h), thus making it the strongest Atlantic hurricane by wind speed. These were also the highest sustained winds in the Western Hemisphere until Hurricane Patricia in 2015.

South Texas region of the U.S. state of Texas

South Texas is a region of the U.S. state of Texas that lies roughly south of—and sometimes including—San Antonio. The southern and western boundary is the Rio Grande, and to the east it is the Gulf of Mexico. The population of this region is about 4.96 million according to the 2017 census estimates. The southern portion of this region is often referred to as the Rio Grande Valley. The eastern portion along the Gulf of Mexico is also referred to as the Coastal Bend.

1980 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1980 Atlantic hurricane season was tied with 1932, 1969, and 1994 for having the most named storms form in the Atlantic Ocean during the month of November – only to be surpassed in 2001 and 2005. The season officially began on June 1, 1980, and lasted until November 30, 1980. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic Ocean.

Widespread damage was wrought in Galveston, Texas and Houston, Texas, where thousands of homes were destroyed. In Downtown Houston, nearly all skyscrapers saw the loss of approximately half of lower-level windows, littering the urban streets with debris. Widespread power outages and flooding impacted much of Southeast Texas, with observed rainfall totals peaking at 9.95 in (253 mm). In addition to the strong winds, rough surf, and heavy rain, Alicia also generated 22 tornadoes centered around the Houston–Galveston area; most were rated F0, but the strongest, an F2, tore through Corsicana farther north. The impacts of Alicia tapered inland past the point of landfall, though the weakening system still produced damaging winds and flooding in the DallasFort Worth metroplex and Oklahoma; light rain associated with Alicia was observed as far north as Michigan. In total, Alicia caused 21 fatalities and 7,288 casualties; due to the extent of its damage, the name Alicia was retired by the World Meteorological Organization in 1984.

Galveston, Texas City in Texas

Galveston is a coastal resort city and port off the southeast coast on Galveston Island and Pelican Island in the American State of Texas. The community of 209.3 square miles (542 km2), with an estimated population of 50,180 in 2015, is the county seat of surrounding Galveston County and second-largest municipality in the county. It is also within the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area at its southern end on the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Fujita scale (F-Scale), or Fujita–Pearson scale, is a scale for rating tornado intensity, based primarily on the damage tornadoes inflict on human-built structures and vegetation. The official Fujita scale category is determined by meteorologists and engineers after a ground or aerial damage survey, or both; and depending on the circumstances, ground-swirl patterns, weather radar data, witness testimonies, media reports and damage imagery, as well as photogrammetry or videogrammetry if motion picture recording is available. The Fujita scale was replaced with the Enhanced Fujita scale (EF-Scale) in the United States in February 2007. In April 2013, Canada adopted the EF-Scale over the Fujita scale along with 31 "Specific Damage Indicators" used by Environment Canada (EC) in their ratings.

Corsicana, Texas City in Texas, United States

Corsicana is a city in Navarro County, Texas, United States. It is located on Interstate 45, some 58 mi south of downtown Dallas. The population was 23,770 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Navarro County.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale Alicia 1983 track.png
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

The origin of Hurricane Alicia can be traced to an frontal boundary that extended from New England to the Gulf of Mexico. [1] This weak front was initially stationary over the Southeastern United States but moved slowly southward into the north-central and northeastern fringes of the gulf, producing strong convective activity beginning on the night of August 13, 1983. [2] On August 14, a small area of low pressure developed on the western end of the front and moved off the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, intensifying as it progressed further into the open gulf waters. [2] [1] The thunderstorms associated with the small low-pressure area—described as a mesoscale convective complex—aided in the development of additional storms in the northern Gulf of Mexico by facilitating favorable conditions for convective initiation. By the evening of August 14, the disturbance had largely separated from the parent frontal trough and continued to organize around a surface-level circulation. [2] . A United States Air Force reconnaissance aircraft investigated the precursor system and determined that it had developed into a tropical depression at 12:00  UTC (7:00 a.m. CDT) on August 15 while 160 mi (260 km) south of New Orleans, Louisiana. [3] [4] Within six hours of developing, the disturbance intensified further into a tropical storm, [4] attaining the name Alicia and becoming the hurricane season's first named storm. [5] Due to Alicia's formation in a region with high environmental pressures, the storm remained relatively small throughout its lifetime. The presence of a ridge of high pressure to Alicia's north steered the nascent tropical cyclone slowly westward in the early part of its development. The ridge eventually drifted eastward, resulting in Alicia slowly curving towards the northwest beginning mid-day on August 16. [1]

Weather front boundary separating two masses of air of different densities

A weather front is a boundary separating two masses of air of different densities, and is the principal cause of meteorological phenomena outside the tropics. In surface weather analyses, fronts are depicted using various colored triangles and half-circles, depending on the type of front. The air masses separated by a front usually differ in temperature and humidity.

New England Region of the United States

New England is a geographical region composed of six states of the northeastern United States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and north, respectively. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east and southeast, and Long Island Sound is to the south. Boston is New England's largest city as well as the capital of Massachusetts. The largest metropolitan area is Greater Boston with nearly a third of the entire region's population, which also includes Worcester, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.

Gulf of Mexico An Atlantic Ocean basin extending into southern North America

The Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin and a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean, largely surrounded by the North American continent. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. The U.S. states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida border the Gulf on the north, which are often referred to as the "Third Coast", in comparison with the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

The storm's slow movement—averaging just 5 mph (8 km/h)—and lack of strong steering currents allowed Alicia to reap highly favorable conditions characterized by warm sea surface temperatures in excess of 84 °F (29 °C) and favorable winds in the upper troposphere due to an upper-level anticyclone, resulting in unabated intensification until landfall. [5] [1] Radar analyses indicated that Alicia was stationary at times as it transitioned to a northwesterly heading. [5] An eye began to emerge on satellite imagery by the afternoon of August 16. [6] On August 17, Alicia strengthened into a hurricane with its pressure falling at a steady 1  mbar (hPa; 0.03  inHg) per hour. [1] [4] At 06:00 UTC (1:00 a.m. CDT) on August 18, Alicia became a major hurricane and made landfall an hour later on Galveston Island25 mi (40 km) southwest of Galveston, Texas—with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (160 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of 962 mbar (hPa; 28.41 inHg) as measured by aircraft reconnaissance, [4] [5] making it a low-end Category 3 on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. [4] Alicia was the first hurricane to strike the continental United States since Hurricane Allen moved ashore South Texas in August  1980, ending the longest break in contiguous U.S. hurricane landfalls of the 20th century. [1] [7] The hurricane was also the first major hurricane to impact the Greater Houston area since Hurricane Carla in 1961. [8]

Sea surface temperature Water temperature close to the oceans surface

Sea surface temperature (SST) is the water temperature close to the ocean's surface. The exact meaning of surface varies according to the measurement method used, but it is between 1 millimetre (0.04 in) and 20 metres (70 ft) below the sea surface. Air masses in the Earth's atmosphere are highly modified by sea surface temperatures within a short distance of the shore. Localized areas of heavy snow can form in bands downwind of warm water bodies within an otherwise cold air mass. Warm sea surface temperatures are known to be a cause of tropical cyclogenesis over the Earth's oceans. Tropical cyclones can also cause a cool wake, due to turbulent mixing of the upper 30 metres (100 ft) of the ocean. SST changes diurnally, like the air above it, but to a lesser degree. There is less SST variation on breezy days than on calm days. In addition, ocean currents such as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), can effect SST's on multi-decadal time scales, a major impact results from the global thermohaline circulation, which affects average SST significantly throughout most of the world's oceans.

Outflow (meteorology) air that flows outwards from a storm system

Outflow, in meteorology, is air that flows outwards from a storm system. It is associated with ridging, or anticyclonic flow. In the low levels of the troposphere, outflow radiates from thunderstorms in the form of a wedge of rain-cooled air, which is visible as a thin rope-like cloud on weather satellite imagery or a fine line on weather radar imagery. Low-level outflow boundaries can disrupt the center of small tropical cyclones. However, outflow aloft is essential for the strengthening of a tropical cyclone. If this outflow is undercut, the tropical cyclone weakens. If two tropical cyclones are in proximity, the upper level outflow from the system to the west can limit the development of the system to the east.

Eye (cyclone) region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones

The eye is a region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones. The eye of a storm is a roughly circular area, typically 30–65 km (20–40 miles) in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather and highest winds occur. The cyclone's lowest barometric pressure occurs in the eye and can be as much as 15 percent lower than the pressure outside the storm.

Alicia at peak intensity just after landfall on the morning of August 18 Hurricane Alicia 1983.jpg
Alicia at peak intensity just after landfall on the morning of August 18

Alicia weakened as it accelerated northwest into the Texas interior, with the hurricane's center passing just west of Downtown Houston on the morning of August 18 as a Category 1 hurricane; [4] the storm was initially slow to weaken as it was able to rein in moist air from the warm Gulf of Mexico. [5] Later that day, the continued inhibitory impacts of friction and dry air weakened Alicia to a tropical storm near College Station, Texas, [9] and degenerated into a tropical depression early on August 19 near the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. [4] Despite having remained over land for 36 hours, Alicia remained well-organized while tracking into Oklahoma on August 20. [10] The tapering system transitioned into an extratropical cyclone later that day; these remnants persisted for another day before they were absorbed by a passing trough over eastern Nebraska on August 21. [1] [4]

Downtown Houston Neighborhood of Houston in Harris County, Texas, United States

Downtown is the largest business district in Houston, Texas, located near the geographic center of the metropolitan area at the confluence of Interstate 10, Interstate 45, and Interstate 69. The 1.84-square-mile (4.8 km2) district, enclosed by the aforementioned highways, contains the original townsite of Houston at the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou, a point known as Allen's Landing. Downtown has been the city's preeminent commercial district since its founding in 1836.

College Station, Texas City in Texas, United States

College Station is a city in Brazos County, Texas, situated in East-Central Texas in the heart of the Brazos Valley, in the center of the region known as Texas Triangle. It is 90 miles northwest of Houston and 87 miles (140 km) northeast of Austin. As of the 2010 census, College Station had a population of 93,857, which had increased to an estimated population of 121,321 as of February 2019. College Station and Bryan together make up the Bryan-College Station metropolitan area, the 14th-largest metropolitan area in Texas with 255,589 people as of 2015.

Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex Metroplex in Texas, United States

The Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex encompasses 13 counties within the U.S. state of Texas. Residents of the area also refer to it as DFW, or the Metroplex. It is the economic and cultural hub of the region of North Texas, and it is the largest inland metropolitan area in the United States.


Hurricane Alicia marked the first time the National Weather Service provided local interests with landfall probabilities, beginning 60 hours before Alicia's eventual landfall. [1] The new information was generally well-received by local officials, though a slight uptick in landfall probabilities for the New Orleans area was interpreted by a local radio station to have denoted a change in Alicia's course, resulting in the unnecessary transition of two local hospitals to emergency operations. [11] The first gale warnings and hurricane watches were issued for the United States Gulf Coast between Corpus Christi, Texas and Grand Isle, Louisiana at 16:00 UTC (11:00 a.m. CDT) on August 16. Coastal areas from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Morgan City, Louisiana were issued hurricane warnings shortly after Alicia intensified into a hurricane on August 17; these warnings remained until the storm weakened into a tropical storm over East Texas. [1] The National Weather Service office in Galveston suspended operations after water began to flood the office at the height of the storm. [12]

Between 60–80 thousand people were evacuated from Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, and Harris counties in advance of Alicia, as well as 1,500 persons from Sabine Pass. [13] Twenty thousand people sought refuge at shelters within Houston. [14] Another 6,000 evacuated from Cameron Parish, Louisiana. Offshore oil operations were postponed in preparation for Alicia with the evacuation of 1,360 workers, most of whom were from Shell platforms. [13] Initially, however, residents did not take the warnings seriously. Galveston Mayor E. Gus Manuel, against the advice of Texas Governor Mark White, ordered the evacuation of only low-lying areas. [15] As a result, only 10 percent of the population living behind the seawall chose to leave when Alicia came ashore. In contrast, about 30 percent of Galveston's population evacuated the island when Hurricane Allen threatened the eastern Texas coastline in 1980. [16] Throughout the day, however, as the increasing winds began to cause damage in Galveston, people grew more concerned. The mayor finally ordered a widespread evacuation of the island after midnight on August 18, but by then, the bridges to the mainland were uncrossable. [15]


Rainfall swaths from Hurricane Alicia's trek into the Central US Plains and Midwest Alicia 1983 rainfall.gif
Rainfall swaths from Hurricane Alicia's trek into the Central US Plains and Midwest

Hurricane Alicia caused US$3 billion in damage, making it the costliest tropical cyclone in U.S. history at the time; [17] insured losses were estimated at US$700 million by the American Insurance Association. [1] There were 7,288 casualties, including 21 fatalities and 25 hospitalizations. [1] Despite being a relatively small and low-end Category 3 hurricane, the impacts of Alicia were exacerbated in the Houston metropolitan area due to a rapid increase in population, resulting in a rise in potentially susceptible infrastructure that also induced as much as 10 ft (3.0 m) in land subsidence along some stretches of Galveston Bay. [8] [12]


Houston and Galveston areas

Alicia produced a 12 ft (3.7 m) storm tide that crested along the interior coast of Galveston Bay near Baytown, Texas. [1] A 300-home subdivision near Baytown sustained extensive damage to most dwellings. [12] Seabrook, Texas also documented a 12 ft (3.7 m) storm tide, with slightly lower tide heights of 7.5 ft (2.3 m) occurring at Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. [8] The rough surf eroded as much as 250 ft (76 m) of beach in western parts of Galveston Island. [18] A recently constructed levee system protecting Texas City mitigated potential storm surge data to the city's extensive industrial infrastructure. [8] However, an oil spill resulting from a ruptured tank near Galveston Bay swept through areas near the Texas City Dike. [12] A tug capsized 50 mi (80 km) south of Sabine Pass, resulting in one death and the eventual rescue of four crewmembers five days later. [13] Another two deaths resulted from the sinking of two shrimp boats in the Clear Lake, Texas area. [14] In total, about 400 shrimp boats sustained some form of damage or sunk, resulting in $7 million in losses. Major damage was wrought to 80 other large vessels. [19]

A 60–70 mi (97–113 km) stretch of the Texas coast experienced hurricane-force winds. The strongest gust was reported in Galveston where a 102 mph (164 km/h) gust was recorded near landfall, though stronger gusts likely occurred over more sparsely populated coastal areas; [1] no surface observations were documented along southwestern Galveston Island where Alicia made landfall. [9] Analysis of structural damage suggested that gusts as high as 130 mph (210 km/h) were produced by Alicia over land. [14] Nearly every structure in Galveston County, Texas sustained varying degrees of damage from torn roofing to total destruction with the most severe damage occurring in western parts of the county. Telecommunications and power on Galveston Island were downed for several days. The walls of some hotels collapsed and numerous windows facing the wind were blown out. [12] Storm surge damaged most buildings in Jamaica Beach, Texas, with 50 homes sustaining major damage. Heavy rains nearing 8 in (200 mm) totals on the island caused street flooding and destroyed a mobile home community. Significant wind damage occurred on the inland portions of Galveston County, including damage to schools, apartment complexes, and mobile homes. In League City, Texas, damage was estimated at $100 million, largely stemming from roof damage. [14]

Seven people were killed in Harris County, Texas as a result of fallen trees, drownings, or automobile crashes. Another 1,530 people were injured. [14] At Houston's William P. Hobby Airport, sustained winds peaked at 81 mph (130 km/h) with gusts to 99 mph (159 mph). [1] The airport sustained $1.5 million in damage, including damage to several small aircraft, hangars, metal structures, and airport windows. [14] Tropical storm-force winds of 51 mph (82 km/h) gusting to 78 mph (126 km/h) at the Houston Intercontinental Airport; there, two terminal roofs experienced minor damage and one airplane broke from its ties. Fifty cars on site suffered shattered windows. [14] Skyscrapers in Downtown Houston suffered extensive damage from wind-blown debris accelerated by the narrow spaces between buildings. [13] The lower 40 floors of most skyscrapers were shattered by wind-blown gravel. Similar debris or water blocked over 20 major roads; flooding caused by the widespread 5–8 in (130–200 mm) rainfall was most severe in Baytown, Clear Lake, and Pasadena in the eastern part of Harris County, necessitating the rescue of roughly 300 people. Thirty of these rescues arose from a single subdivision in Baytown where inundation reached a depth of 10 ft (3,000 mm). In these communities, hundreds of homes were flooded. Ninety percent of homes were damaged in Crystal Beach, Texas, of which half were destroyed. Alicia also caused $4.5 million in cotton losses and $6 million in pecan crop losses in Harris County. Total damage to public property in the county was estimated at $46 million. Johnson Space Center escaped significant damage, though 200 nearby trees were toppled by the strong winds and a few facility doors and windows were damaged. [14]

Elsewhere in Texas

Possibly tornado- or microburst-induced damage between Hitchcock and Bacliff photographed from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration helicopter Danos de Alicia 83.jpg
Possibly tornado- or microburst-induced damage between Hitchcock and Bacliff photographed from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration helicopter

Relatively less severe damage along the Texas coast between High Island, Texas and Sabine Pass, Texas where structures generally sustained roof and window damage but most remained intact. Coastal roads were flooded by storm surge and numerous power lines were downed. [13] In Chambers County, Texas, Alicia caused $24 million in damage and the loss of 30–50 percent of the county's rice and soybean crops. More than 200 homes were flooded, forcing residents into shelters. Damage was significant on the southern end of Bay City, Texas, where several homes were destroyed. [14] Heavy rains from Alicia caused localized flooding in Southeastern Texas under a wide swath of ≥5 in (130 mm) rainfall. The highest rainfall totals were largely east of the hurricane's center with a secondary maximum farther east along the TexasLouisiana border near Orange, Texas. [8] The highest measured rainfall total occurred at Greens Bayou, where 9.95 in (253 mm) of rain fell. [1] The Pine Island Bayou in Hardin County, Texas overflowed its banks and adjacent areas remained inundated for a week after 3–5 in (76–127 mm) of rain fell across the county. Floodwaters blocked roads in Jefferson County where Cow Bayou and the Neches River overflowed their banks. Widespread power outages also impacted the county, affecting over 10,000 homes in the Port Arthur and Sabine Pass areas. Similar effects were felt in nearby Liberty County where crop damage from the heavy rains and winds amounted to near $10 million [19]

In eastern Brazoria County, Texas, strong winds caused widespread damage to roofs, mobile homes, and automobiles. Several aircraft at the Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport in Freeport, Texas; damage in the city totaled $1 million. Sixty-five percent of structures were damaged in Danbury, Texas. Extensive power outages affected Fort Bend County, Texas. [14] Damage in Matagorda was mostly caused by tidal flooding and winds; 4,500 residents evacuated after the storm surge flooded low-lying areas, forcing the closure of two drawbridges crossing the Intracoastal Waterway connecting the mainland to the Matagorda Peninsula. Wind-induced rice crop damage was estimated at $3.5 million. Elsewhere in East Texas, Alicia's strong winds and heavy rains blocked power and water supplies in several cities. Two people were killed in Montgomery County due to fallen trees. [19]

The hurricane also produced 22 tornadoes across Texas, [20] associated primarily with a single strong outer rainband northeast of Alicia's center; [21] the majority were brief and weak F0 tornadoes that caused negligible damage. [20] [19] [22] One F1 tornado in Harris County damage two businesses near the intersection of Interstate 45 and Texas State Highway NASA Road 1. [19] The strongest tornado was an F2 tornado in Corsicana that was responsible for a significant proportion of the damage toll in North Texas. The tornado touched down in the morning of August 18 in the western extents of Corsicana and lasted for five minutes on a 3 mi (4.8 km) track, damaging several buildings including homes, a church, and a horse arena.. [20] In addition to the F2 tornado, the weakening Alicia produced strong winds in North Texas. In Panola County, these winds destroyed outbuildings and downed powerlines and trees in addition to damaging roofs. The weakening storm brought strong thunderstorms over the Dallas–Fort Worth area, bringing gusts estimated between 80–100 mph (130–160 km/h) and causing structural damage throughout the metropolitan area. Some condominiums under construction were destroyed by the winds and trees and powerlines were downed in Keller, Texas and Grapevine, Texas. A freeway sign was dislodged and fell upon two 18-wheeler trucks in Dallas, killing the driver of one truck and seriously injuring the driver of the other truck. Creeks swelled following heavy rains, with a local maximum of 7.48 in (190 mm) near Mexia, Texas. A ten-year-old boy died after they were swept away by a rapidly flowing current. [20]


Negligible impacts were felt in Louisiana from Alicia's storm surge. [13] Near El Reno, Oklahoma, 4–7 in (100–180 mm) of rain fell within a 5-hour period, resulting in significant flooding west of the town. Similar rainfall rates flooded several buildings at the University of Oklahoma. [23]


The Red Cross provided food and shelter to 63,000 people in the hurricane's wake, costing about $166 million (1983 USD; $418 million2019 USD). [1] [24] FEMA gave out $32 million (1983 USD; $80.5 million2019 USD) to Alicia's victims and local governments; $23 million (1983 USD; $57.9 million2019 USD) of that was for picking up debris spread after the storm. [25] More than 16,000 people sought help from FEMA's disaster service centers. The Small Business Administration, aided with 56 volunteers, interviewed over 16,000 victims, and it was predicted that about 7,000 loan applications would be submitted. The Federal Insurance Agency had closed over 1,318 flood insurance cases from Alicia's aftermath, however only 782 received final payment. [25]

On September 23 and September 24, 1983, in the wake of Alicia, two subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives held hearings in Houston. The hearing on September 23 were to examine the primary issues of the NWS during Alicia, the effectiveness of the NWS in current procedures, and the use of the NWS. The second hearing, which occurred on September 24, was to discuss the damage and recovery efforts during Alicia. [25] During the September 23 hearing, witnesses agreed that the NWS did well before and during the emergency caused by Alicia. NWS forecasters also testified in which they said they gratified themselves that their predictions were well "on target" and that the local emergency plans had worked so well, which saved many lives. Mayor Gus Manuel on Galveston claimed that the NWS did an excellent job during Alicia. He was also very impressed about their landfall predictions on August 17. [25] During the September 24 hearing, evidence was presented which demonstrated the need for improving readiness to cope with disasters, such as Alicia. Mayor Manuel mentioned that his town needed stronger building codes, which were under review. [25]

Due to the severe damage, the name "Alicia" was retired in the spring of 1984 by the World Meteorological Organization, and will never be used again for an Atlantic hurricane. It was the first name to be retired since Hurricane Allen in 1980. [26] It was replaced with "Allison" for the 1989 season, which would itself be retired after the 2001 season. [27]

See also

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The 1979 Atlantic hurricane season was the first season to include both male and female names, as well as the common six-year rotating lists of tropical cyclone names. The season officially began on June 1, and lasted until November 30. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. It was slightly below average, with nine systems reaching tropical storm intensity. The first system, an unnumbered tropical depression, developed north of Puerto Rico on June 9. Two days later, Tropical Depression One formed and produced severe flooding in Jamaica, with 40 deaths and about $27 million (1979 USD) in damage. Tropical Storm Ana caused minimal impact in the Lesser Antilles. Hurricane Bob spawned tornadoes and produced minor wind damage along the Gulf Coast of the United States, primarily in Louisiana, while the remnants caused flooding, especially in Indiana. Tropical Storm Claudette caused extensive flooding, due to torrential rainfall. There were two deaths and damaged totaled $750 million.

Hurricane Carla Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in 1961

Hurricane Carla ranks as the most intense U.S. tropical cyclone landfall on the Hurricane Severity Index. The third named storm and first Category 5 hurricane of the 1961 Atlantic hurricane season, Carla developed from an area of squally weather in the southwestern Caribbean Sea on September 3. Initially a tropical depression, it strengthened slowly while heading northwestward, and by September 5, the system was upgraded to Tropical Storm Carla. About 24 hours later, Carla was upgraded to a hurricane. Shortly thereafter, the storm curved northward while approaching the Yucatán Channel. Late on September 7, Carla entered the Gulf of Mexico while passing just northeast of the Yucatán Peninsula. By early on the following day, the storm became a major hurricane after reaching Category 3 intensity. Resuming its northwestward course, Carla continued intensification and on September 11, it was upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane. Later that day, Carla weakened slightly, but was still a large and intense hurricane when the storm made landfall near Port O'Connor, Texas. It weakened quickly inland and was reduced to a tropical storm on September 12. Heading generally northward, Carla transitioned into an extratropical cyclone on September 13, while centered over southern Oklahoma. Rapidly moving northeastward, Carla's remnants reached the Labrador Sea, Canada and dissipated on September 17, 1961.

1902 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1902 Atlantic hurricane season featured five known tropical cyclones, three of which made landfall in the United States. The first system was initially observed in the northwestern Caribbean Sea on June 12. The last system dissipated on November 6 while located well southeast of Newfoundland. These dates fall within the period with the most tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic. None of the systems existed simultaneously.

Hurricane Claudette (2003) Category 1 Atlantic hurricane in 2003

Hurricane Claudette was the third tropical storm and first hurricane of the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season. A fairly long-lived July Atlantic hurricane, Claudette began as a tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean. It moved quickly westward, brushing past the Yucatán Peninsula before moving northwestward through the Gulf of Mexico. Claudette remained a tropical storm until just before making landfall in Port O'Connor, Texas, when it quickly strengthened to a strong Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Forecasting of its path and intensity was uncertain throughout its lifetime, resulting in widespread and often unnecessary preparations along its path.

Hurricane Chantal (1989) Category 1 Atlantic hurricane in 1989

Hurricane Chantal was one of three tropical cyclones to make landfall in Texas during the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season. The third named storm and the first hurricane of the season, Chantal slowly developed on July 30 in the southern Gulf of Mexico from a tropical disturbance that was previously within Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) while near Trinidad and Tobago. While heading north-northwestward, the depression steadily intensified and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Chantal on the following day. Thereafter, Chantal quickly strengthen and became a hurricane on August 1. After intensifying slightly further, Chantal made landfall near High Island, Texas later that day. The storm quickly weakened upon moving inland and fell to tropical storm intensity a few hours after landfall. Early on August 2, Chantal weakened to a tropical depression and dissipated over Oklahoma by August 4.

Hurricane Jerry Category 1 Atlantic hurricane in 1989

Hurricane Jerry caused minor damage in Texas and flash flooding in Kentucky and Virginia in October 1989. The fourteenth tropical cyclone, tenth named storm of the season, Jerry developed from a tropical wave in the Bay of Campeche on October 12. Initially a tropical depression, the system moved north-northwestward across the Gulf of Mexico and strengthened into Tropical Storm Jerry early on the following day. Jerry continuously deepened until October 14 and then maintained intensity while curving northeastward and briefly decelerating. Later that day, the storm re-curved north-northwestward. Jerry began to intensify on October 15 and soon became a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. Early on October 16, Jerry made landfall on Galveston Island, Texas with winds of 85 miles per hour (137 km/h). Less than six hours later, Jerry weakened to a tropical storm and then a tropical depression shortly thereafter. Late on October 16, Jerry was absorbed by a frontal system while situated over southwestern Arkansas.

1915 Galveston hurricane Category 4 Atlantic hurricane in 1915

The 1915 Galveston hurricane was a deadly hurricane that struck Leeward Islands, Hispaniola, Cuba and Texas, in mid August of the 1915 Atlantic hurricane season. Striking Galveston, Texas, 15 years after the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, its 21-ft (6.4-m) waves were slowed by the new Galveston Seawall but changed the beach structure: on August 17, the entire 300-ft (91.5–m) beach was eroded to become an offshore sandbar, later returning partially, but never the same. The 1915 storm caused a great deal of destruction in its path, leaving 275-400 people dead and $50 million in damage.

Hurricane Humberto (2007) Category 1 Atlantic hurricane in 2007

Hurricane Humberto was a Category 1 hurricane that formed and intensified faster than any other North Atlantic tropical cyclone on record, before landfall. Developing on September 12, 2007, in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, the tropical cyclone rapidly strengthened and struck High Island, Texas, with winds of about 90 mph (150 km/h) early on September 13. It steadily weakened after moving ashore, and on September 14, Humberto began dissipating over northwestern Georgia as it interacted with an approaching cold front.

Tropical Storm Edouard (2008) Atlantic tropical storm in 2008

Tropical Storm Edouard brought coastal and minor inland flooding to Louisiana and Texas in August 2008. The fifth tropical cyclone and fifth named storm of the hurricane season, Edouard developed from a trough in the northern Gulf of Mexico on August 3. After developing into a tropical depression, it gradually strengthened and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Edouard on August 4. However, northerly wind shear initially halted any further significant intensification and also caused the storm to struggle to maintain deep convection over the center. Edouard eventually intensified further and peaked as a strong tropical storm with winds of 65 mph (100 km/h) on August 5. Shortly thereafter, the storm made landfall near Gilchrist, Texas later that day. Edouard quickly weakened and was downgraded to tropical depression by early on August 6, six hours before degenerated into a remnant low pressure area.

Hurricane Bonnie (1986) Category 1 Atlantic hurricane in 1986

Hurricane Bonnie caused moderate damage along the Gulf Coast of the United States in late June 1986. The second named storm and first hurricane of the 1986 Atlantic hurricane season, Bonnie developed out of an area of low pressure over the central Gulf of Mexico on June 23. The system gradually intensified and was declared Tropical Storm Bonnie the next day as it moved generally towards the west-northwest. On June 25, Bonnie was upgraded to a hurricane. Bonnie strengthened further and on the following day, the storm attained its peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 km/h). Shortly thereafter, Bonnie made landfall near High Island, Texas. Following landfall, Bonnie quickly weakened below tropical storm status and dissipated over Missouri on June 28.

Tropical Storm Abby (1964)

Tropical Storm Abby was an exceptionally small tropical cyclone that had minor effects across Southeast Texas in early August 1964. Forming as a tropical depression out of a trough south of Louisiana on August 5, the system moved generally westward. It was not until August 7 that the system began to organize. That day, an eye rapidly formed within the system and it became a tropical storm just 60 mi (95 km) southeast of Galveston, Texas. Soon thereafter, a weather reconnaissance plane reported a barometric pressure of 1000 mbar at the storm's center. Around 18:00 UTC, the newly named Abby attained peak winds of 65 mph (100 km/h). It subsequently made landfall near Matagorda, Texas four hours later. Once onshore gradual weakening ensued, though a brief period of re-organization delayed its dissipation. Abby degenerated into an area of showers on August 8 southwest of San Antonio, Texas.

1941 Texas hurricane Category 1 Atlantic hurricane in 1941

The 1941 Texas hurricane, the second storm of the 1941 Atlantic hurricane season, was a large and intense tropical cyclone that struck coastal Texas as a major hurricane in September 1941, causing relatively severe damage. The storm is estimated to have formed in the eastern Gulf of Mexico on September 16. After attaining hurricane strength, it completed a clockwise loop and turned northwestward. The hurricane continued to strengthen until it made landfall near East Matagorda Bay, Texas, with winds of 125 miles per hour (201 km/h), but rapidly weakened as it headed inland. Damage from the storm amounted to about $6.5 million, and crops throughout the region were largely destroyed. The city of Houston suffered extensive damage as the storm passed to the east. The hurricane disrupted activities related to the Louisiana Maneuvers. Later, the system became extratropical and passed over Lake Huron, killing three people in Toronto. Overall, seven people lost their lives due to the cyclone.

1949 Texas hurricane Category 4 Atlantic and Pacific hurricane in 1949

The 1949 Texas hurricane was a tropical cyclone of the 1949 Atlantic hurricane season. Forming in the Pacific Ocean on September 27, the storm crossed into the Gulf of Mexico—one of only a handful of known storms to do so—and began to intensify. It ultimately peaked with winds corresponding to high-end Category 2 status on the modern-day Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale and made landfall near Freeport, Texas, on the morning of October 4. It rapidly weakened after moving inland and dissipated several days later. Damage from the storm was moderate, although the hurricane temporarily cut off the city of Galveston from the mainland. Rice crops suffered extensive damage, with losses estimated at up to $10 million. Two people died due to the hurricane.

Hurricane Able (1952) Category 2 Atlantic hurricane in 1952

Hurricane Able was the only hurricane to make landfall in the United States in the 1952 season. Forming on August 18 off the west coast of Africa, Able moved generally west- to west-northwestward for much of its duration. It was first observed by the Hurricane Hunters on August 25 to the north of the Lesser Antilles. Two days later, Able attained hurricane status, and on August 30 it turned sharply to the north-northwest in response to a cold front. The hurricane reached peak winds of 105 mph (170 km/h) just prior to moving ashore near St. Helena Island Beaufort, South Carolina on August 31. Although it quickly weakened below hurricane force, Able maintained tropical storm force for almost two days over land, eventually dissipating over Maine on September 2.

1960 Texas tropical storm Atlantic tropical storm in 1960

The 1960 Texas tropical storm brought severe but localized flooding to southeastern Texas in June 1960. The first tropical cyclone and first tropical storm of the 1960 Atlantic hurricane season, this system developed from an area of showers and thunderstorms in the Bay of Campeche on June 22. Initially a tropical depression, it strengthened and was estimated to have reached tropical storm status on June 23. Early on the following day, the storm peaked with winds of 45 mph (75 km/h). Later that day, it made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas, at the same intensity. The storm weakened slowly and moved across the Central United States, before dissipating over Illinois on June 29.

1945 Texas hurricane Category 4 Atlantic hurricane in 1945

The 1945 Texas hurricane was a slow-moving tropical cyclone which paralleled the Texas Gulf Coast, causing extensive damage in late-August 1945. The fifth tropical storm and second hurricane of the annual hurricane season, the storm formed out of an area of disturbed weather which had been situated over the Bay of Campeche on August 24. In favorable conditions, the system quickly intensified as it steadily moved northward, attaining hurricane intensity later that day. As it approached the coast, however, the hurricane quickly slowed in forward motion, allowing it time to intensify off the Texas coast. After reaching major hurricane status, the storm reached peak intensity on August 26 as a minimal Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour (185 km/h). Later that day, the cyclone executed a slight curve toward the Texas coast, and early the next day made landfall near Seadrift at peak intensity. Once inland, it quickly weakened, and degenerated into a remnant low on August 29 over Central Texas.


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Preceded by
Costliest Atlantic hurricanes on Record
Succeeded by