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Galveston Hurricane of 1900

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Author Topic: Galveston Hurricane of 1900  (Read 5452 times)
Jessie Phallon
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Posts: 4695

« on: September 07, 2007, 11:07:34 pm »

The storm

The last train to reach Galveston left Houston on the morning of September 8 at 9:45 a.m. It found the tracks washed out, and passengers were forced to transfer to a relief train on parallel tracks to complete their journey. Even then, debris on the track kept the train’s progress at a crawl.

The ninety-five travelers on the train from Beaumont were not so lucky. They found themselves at the Bolivar Peninsula waiting for the ferry that would carry them, train and all, to the island. When they arrived, the high seas forced the ferry captain to give up on his attempt to dock. The train attempted to return the way it had come, but rising water blocked its path.

By early afternoon, a steady northeastern wind had picked up. By 5 p.m., the Bureau office was recording sustained hurricane-force winds. That night, the wind direction shifted to the east, and then to the southeast as the hurricane's eye began to pass over the island.

One of the last messages that reached the mainland was from Cline's brother at 3:30 p.m., reporting “Gulf rising, water covers streets of about half of city." Later he regretted not saying the whole city was under water.” Shortly thereafter, the telegraph lines were cut.

The highest measured wind speed was 100 mph (160 km/h) just after 6 p.m., but the Weather Bureau’s anemometer was blown off the building shortly after that measurement was recorded. The eye passed over the city around 8 p.m. Maximum winds were estimated at 120 mph at the time, but later estimates placed the hurricane at the higher Category 4 classification on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The lowest recorded barometric pressure was 28.48 inHg (964.4 mbar), considered at the time to be so low as to be obviously in error. Modern estimates later placed the storm’s central pressure at 27.49 inHg (930.9 mbar), but this was subsequently adjusted to the storm's official lowest measured central pressure of 27.63 inHg (936 mbar).

Ten refugees from the Beaumont train sought shelter at the Point Bolivar lighthouse with two hundred residents of Port Bolivar that were already there. The eighty-five that stayed with the train died when the storm surge overran the tops of the cars.

By 11 p.m., the wind was southerly and diminishing. On Sunday morning, clear skies and a 20 mph breeze off the Gulf of Mexico greeted the Galveston survivors.

The storm continued on, and was tracked into Oklahoma. From there, it continued over the Great Lakes while still sustaining winds of almost 40 mph (as recorded over Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and passed north of Halifax, Nova Scotia on September 12. From there it traveled into the North Atlantic where it disappeared from observations.
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