Tropical Storm Allison (1989)

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Tropical Storm Allison
Tropical storm (SSHWS/NWS)
Allison 1989-06-26 1800Z.png
Tropical Storm Allison at peak intensity making landfall in Texas on June 26
Formed June 24, 1989
Dissipated June 28, 1989
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:50 mph (85 km/h)
Lowest pressure 999 mbar (hPa); 29.5 inHg
Fatalities 11 direct
Damage $560 million (1989 USD)
Areas affected East Texas, Louisiana
Part of the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season

Tropical Storm Allison was a tropical cyclone that produced severe flooding in the southern United States. The second tropical cyclone and the first named storm of the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season, Allison formed on June 24 in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Development of Allison was a result of the interaction of a tropical wave and the remnants of Pacific hurricane Hurricane Cosme. It moved south and became a tropical storm on June 26. By June 27, Allison made landfall near Freeport, Texas. Allison quickly weakened to a tropical depression later that day, and transitioned into an extratropical cyclone on the following day.

Southern United States Cultural region of the United States

The southern United States, also known as the American South, Dixie, Dixieland, or simply the South, is a region of the United States of America. It is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the western United States, with the midwestern United States and northeastern United States to its north and the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico to its south.

1989 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1989 Atlantic hurricane season was an average season with 11 named storms. The season officially began on June 1, and ended on November 30. The first storm, Tropical Depression One, developed on June 15, and dissipated two days later without effects on land. Later that month, Tropical Storm Allison caused severe flooding, especially in Texas and Louisiana. Tropical Storm Barry, Tropical Depressions Six, Nine, and Thirteen, and Hurricanes Erin and Felix caused negligible impact. Hurricane Gabrielle and Tropical Storm Iris caused light effects on land, with the former resulting in nine fatalities from rip currents offshore the East Coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada, while the latter produced minor flooding in the United States Virgin Islands.

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 caused heavy rainfall, amounting to 30 in (760 mm) in some places. In total, 11 fatalities resulted from the storm, as well as $560 million (1989 USD, $1.11 billion2018 USD) in damage.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale Allison 1989 track.png
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

Three meteorological phenomena combined to produce Tropical Storm Allison. First, Hurricane Cosme moved northward through Mexico in response to a strong mid to upper-level ridge. Its remnants entered the Gulf of Mexico on June 22, when a westward moving tropical wave reached the area. Finally, a strong anticyclone over the Gulf allowed for the disturbed area to organize into Tropical Depression Two in the western Gulf of Mexico on June 24. [1]

Hurricane Cosme (1989) Category 1 Pacific hurricane in 1989

Hurricane Cosme was an unusually large tropical cyclone that made landfall in south-western Mexico in June 1989. The third tropical storm and second hurricane of the 1989 Pacific hurricane season, Cosme formed on June 19 from a tropical wave, the storm initially moved westward before being upgraded into Tropical Storm Cosme. It ultimately intensifying into a Category 1 hurricane. Cosme turned northward and made landfall near Acapulco during the night of June 21. It rapidly weakened over land. The storm caused excessive rainfall on land, leading to deadly and destructive flooding. It is estimated that 30 people died in the hurricane.

Mexico country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

The depression continued to organize as it drifted to the north, and became Tropical Storm Allison on June 26 off the Texas coast. [1] A ridge to Allison's north weakened in response to an approaching frontal trough, and the tropical storm accelerated to the north. Allison reached a peak of 50 mph (80 km/h) winds just before hitting near Freeport, Texas on June 27. It turned to the northeast with the front, weakened to a tropical depression on June 27, and became extratropical on June 28. [2]

The frontal trough outran the system, and the building ridge to Allison's north forced the extratropical depression turned to the south and southwest. After executing a cyclonic loop over Texas, the ridge to the north began to erode, allowing Allison to track northeast and out of the state. Its circulation dissipated on July 1, but the remnants retained some organization, and continued to the northeast. On July 3 and July 4, the shortwave that influenced the remnants of Allison accelerated ahead of the storm, causing Allison to become stationary over the borders of Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana. A second shortwave trough brought the remnants of Allison southward into Alabama. It turned to the northwest, and the remnants of Allison became unidentifiable over Arkansas on July 7. [2]

Kentucky State of the United States of America

Kentucky, officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state located in the east south-central region of the United States. Although styled as the "State of Kentucky" in the law creating it, (because in Kentucky's first constitution, the name state was used) Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth. Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 Kentucky became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 37th most extensive and the 26th most populous of the 50 United States.

Illinois State of the United States of America

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It has the 5th largest Gross Domestic Product by state, is the 6th-most populous U.S. state and 25th-largest state in terms of land area. Illinois is often noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in northern and central Illinois, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, contains over 65% of the state's population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to other global ports around the world from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean; as well as the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway on the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

Indiana State of the United States of America

Indiana is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of North America. Indiana is the 38th largest by area and the 17th most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city is Indianapolis. Indiana was admitted to the United States as the 19th U.S. state on December 11, 1816. Indiana borders Lake Michigan to the northwest, Michigan to the north, Ohio to the east, Kentucky to the south and southeast, and Illinois to the west.


In preparation for Tropical Storm Allison, a tropical storm watch was issued on June 24 for Baffin Bay, Texas to Morgan City, Louisiana. By June 26, this alert was upgraded to a tropical storm warning. All advisories were discontinued the next day. [3]

Morgan City, Louisiana City in Louisiana, United States

Morgan City is a city in St. Mary Parish in the U.S. State of Louisiana. The population was 12,404 at the 2010 census.


Map of rainfall from Allison across the United States Allison 1989 rainfall.png
Map of rainfall from Allison across the United States


The slow movement of Allison and its remnants resulted in heavy rainfall over East Texas, with some areas receiving more than 20 inches (510 mm). Severe flooding occurred, with more than 6,200 homes suffering water damage, which forced hundreds of residents to evacuate and stranding thousands of other people. Losses in Texas were estimated between $200 million and $400 million. Additionally, there were three deaths in the state, all of which due to drowning. In Brazoria County, rainfall amounts were generally between 6 and 7 inches (150 and 180 mm), causing flooding in the West Columbia area. Precipitation up to 10 inches (250 mm) in Chambers County inundated many streets and caused water intrusion into several homes. Along the Trinity Bay, tides reached almost 7 feet (2.1 m) above normal at Anahuac. Low-lying areas around the mouth of the Trinity River were completely submerged for several days. [4]

Local flooding was reported in Galveston County due to rainfall amounts of 4 to 8 inches (100 to 200 mm), particularly in Clear Lake, Galveston Island, Kemah, and Texas City. The highest storm surge in the area was 3.9 feet (1.2 m) above mean sea level, causing some beach erosion. An estimated 20 to 30 yards (60 to 90 ft) of sand was washed away, while Texas State Highway 87 was closed due to sand and debris spewed onto the roadway from the storm surge. Wind gusts up to 56 mph (90 km/h) downed some trees limbs and power lines. Additionally, a tornado was spawned in Gilchrist and caused minor damage and one injury. In Hardin County, rains of 6 to 8 inches (150 to 200 mm) fell. The Pine Island Bayou overflowed, flooding homes in Pinewood Estates and Silsbee. [4]

Up to 10 inches (250 mm) of rain fell in the southern portions of Liberty County. As a result, significant flooding occurred along the Trinity River. In Liberty and Moss Bluff, Texas, residents of 8 subdivisions were left isolated. Throughout the county, an estimated 2,500 people became stranded. Major streets in Dayton were inundated by as much as 6 feet (1.8 m) of water. About 3,000 homes were flooded, with 500 people fleeing for higher ground. In Jasper County, precipitation amounts reaching 9 inches (230 mm) caused flooding in Buna and Kirbyville, as well as low-lying areas around the Sabine River. Throughout Matagorda County, several streets and low-lying areas were inundated by water due to rainfall amounts up to 10 inches (250 mm). Similar amounts of precipitation amounts in Montgomery County caused flooding along the San Jacinto River and Caney and Spring Creeks. Low-lying areas were submerged along the Sabine River in Newton County, due to up to 8 inches (200 mm) of rainfall. The Sabine River also exceeded its banks in Orange County, flooding several homes and streets. [4]

In Jefferson County, up to 8 inches (200 mm) of rainfall was reported. Significant flooding occurred in areas around the Hillebrandt Bayou. About 200 homes and 50 businesses in Beaumont received water damage, with losses estimated nearly $1.5 million. Throughout the county, damage reached about $2.8 million. Two teenage boys drowned in Beaumont, after the raft they were riding on capsized and subsequently swept into a drainage pipe. Along the coast, storm surge ranged between 2 and 4 feet (0.61 and 1.22 m) in height along the Bolivar Peninsula. This caused minor beach erosion in Jefferson County, while portions of Texas State Highway 87 was also closed here due to sand and debris washed onto the roadway. Wind gusts in the county peaked at 46 mph (74 km/h). [4]


While Allison's winds were not overly strong, it caused tremendous flooding in Texas and Louisiana, with 20 to 25 in (510 to 640 mm) in of rain occurring in some locations. The local hardest hit by the flooding was Winnfield, Louisiana, which experienced almost 30 in (760 mm) of rain from June 26 to July 1. [5] [6]

Rainfall from the storm extended eastward into the Mid-Atlantic States, producing flooding. [7] In Delaware, the rainfall led to record breaking discharge rates at three gauging stations, while one-third of the state's gauging stations reported significant discharges. [8]

13.9 in (350 mm) of rain fell at a site in Arkansas, the highest rainfall total from a tropical cyclone in the state. [9]

Eleven people were reported killed from the storm. Three deaths occurred in Texas, five in Mississippi and three in Louisiana. Two teenage boys were killed when their raft got sucked into a drainage pipe from the runoff of Allison in Beaumont, Texas. An eighteen-year-old was killed in Harris County, Texas from drowning during a swim. The eight final deaths in Louisiana and Mississippi were by drowning. The extreme flooding in turn led to heavy damage, amounting to around $560 million (1989 USD). [10]

See also

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