Saturday, June 16, 2007

Update on Hurricane Season

Dr Jeff Masters, inventor of Weather Underground, writes in his latest blog that the second half of June will be very quiet. This is good news to the extent that SPI sees more tropical storms in the early season than later, such a August and September. In those latter months, hurricanes develop in disturbances off the African coast.

Early season is dominated by cold fronts that become stationary in the Gulf of Mexico. That is not happening, and wind sheer is quite high - meaning that any cyclones would easily get ripped apart. So far this year, the season was characterized by about four extra-tropical cyclones that developed over Cuba, the Bahamas, and South Carolina.

So far we've been lucky because this is our prime time for hurricanes in lower Texas. Two years ago Emily came in on July 8, so when we get past mid-July we're pretty much out of the window of opportunity. However, no telling about wave damage to our beaches, which was severe even with a whimpy sub-tropical named Barry on June 1. That storm was over 1,000 away and developed waves that went clean up to the dunes on June 3.

Knock on wood, bruddas and sistas!


Anonymous said...


I'm afraid you are far too optimistic in suggesting "when we get past mid-July we're pretty much out of the window of opportunity" for a hurricane. I have lived 62 years on the Texas coast, in one place or another, and the truth is that August and September are by far the more dangerous hurricane months (particularly from mid-August through mid-September) for any place in Texas, including the Valley. I write this to perhaps avoid unintentionally misleading folks.

Of all the known, recorded hurricanes making landfall in Texas I believe only two arrived in June, three in July, three in October, but twenty-seven in August/September.

Here is the record of those whose eye came ashore right at Brownsville: the August 6, 1844 storm; the August 13, 1880 storm; the Oct. 12-13, 1880 storm (this second 1880 storm almost completely destroyed Brownsville and killed many); the September 4-5, 1933 storm (40 known dead, 500 injured, Valley citrus 90% destroyed); Hurricane Alice, June 26-28, 1954; and Hurricane Beulah, Sept. 18-23, 1967, a big one with a storm surge of 18 feet.

Others came close. The more recent include Bret in August, 1999, at Port Mansfield; Gilbert in September, 1988, 100 miles south of Brownsville; Allen in August,1980, somewhere south of Corpus; and Gladys in September, 1955, 140 miles south of Brownsville. Similarly dated near misses occurred prior to 1950.

The time to be the most vigilant is August and September.

Will Davis

Sam said...

Hello Will Davis,

You are probably most correct. Also according to the weather folks the most tracks of tropical storms (not just hurricanes) come in the early season. Thanks for contributing, since one might have thought that after July we'd be "free and clear" from what I wrote.

We have been lucky since Beulah and Allen though, haven't we sir?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Sam, you are right. We have been lucky indeed. God willing, our good fortune will continue for a number of years.

Someday, however, another Beulah will arrive, and I fear many now invested in the Island have no real idea of the ensuing destruction which such a calamity will cause to current infrastructure. There has been far too much congested building, too much concrete, too much laissez-faire government, too little investment in thoughtful protection. Repair will be a logistic nightmare and a lengthy financial and emotional burden far beyond what most envision.

I knock wood as well.

Will Davis

Sam said...

Thanks for another good posting, Will.

Myself, we bought one of the last $200,000 beach houses on the Island that wasn't going to fall down right away (knock on wood). Basically, if we get a direct hit from The Big One, we're out of here because I know that when the insurance pays off they'll drop me like a rock for any coverage in a coastal county. I didn't just fall off a turnip truck, ya know!

After the pay-off I might even have a chunk of dirt left over worth some money if it ain't turned into a blow-thru hurricane hole. You're right many people invested way too extravagantly down here and have a very high risk profile. 200 is but pocket change given todays prices, although over the last decades this dump went from 30K to 95K to 208K.

At least I'm realistic about it.