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Hurricane Hits Texan Coast (aka Isaac’s Storm)


On September 8, 1900, a deadly hurricane hit Galveston, Texas, killing between 6,000 and 12,000; it was so overwhelming and caused so much destruction, that no accurate accounts are available. According to NOAA, this hurricane’s sustained winds of at least 115 miles per hour make this a Category 3 hurricane (everyone else classifies it as a Category 4, but I’m going by wind speed here).

Since wind gauge blew away, wind speed might have been higher.

Isaac Cline was the chief weatherman for Texas, at a time when it the U.S. Weather Bureau was inundated with scandal. (Embezzlement and escape from prison, unable to accurately predict the weather to the point where astrologers were listened to more than weathermen…you get the picture.)

In an article written a few years before, ‘Cline boldly declared a cyclone could never seriously’ damage Galveston; anyone who thought otherwise was delusional. What he didn’t realize was that when cables arrived at the Washington Bureau headquarters about the storm off the Cuban coast was that this storm wasn’t like others that hit the Gulf.

It was a mistake that cost Isaac his wife.

Of course, hurricane forecasting technology of 1900 mainly consisted of ships at sea telegraphing into the mainland their approximate location (if they hadn’t been tossed about too much) and that they’d encountered a hurricane. To read more about this national disaster that was worse than the1906 San Francisco earthquake or the 1889 Johnstown Flood in Pennsylvania, try Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson (Paperback: 0-375-70827-8).


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