The Great Corpus Christi Hurricane of 1919

| September 13, 2008 @ 9:21 pm | 10 Replies

In 1919, the residents of Corpus Christi, Texas believed that their area was immune to hurricanes. With a high bluff and protective barrier island, the city was proclaimed in local newspapers to be “the only really safe place on the Texas coast.” After a strong hurricane struck Corpus Christi TX in August 1916, but caused little damage and few fatalities, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times promulgated a myth by running a headline stating “Corpus Christi Defies Tropical Hurricane.” During the week leading up to this Sunday morning in 1919, the only hurricane of the season had crossed into the Gulf of Mexico near Key West. But it had been lost by weather forecasters. It was a bad one.

World War I had just ended, and there were not many ships in the Gulf of Mexico to give weather reports. So residents along the Gulf Coast waited anxiously as the large hurricane pounded the entire Gulf Coast with heavy surf. Forecasters waited for the telltale fall of the barometer and the corresponding increase in winds.

The signs finally came on Sunday morning, September 14th in Corpus Christi and hurricane warnings were frantically raised. The hurricane made landfall about twenty five miles south of Corpus Christi, placing the Texas coastal city in the dangerous right front semicircle of the

Many residents in the North Beach area who had survived the 1916 storm ignored warnings from police and the Weather Bureau to evacuate. A total of 287 people died in the 1919 hurricane. A sixteen foot storm surge inundated the low-lying areas of Corpus Christi, destroying almost all of the wooden buildings there. Port Aransas was nearly totally demolished.

This Great Corpus Christi Hurricane of 1919 remains one of the most intense Texas hurricanes in history. One of its survivors was a young man named Robert Simpson. He would go on to a distinguished career as Director of the National Hurricane Center. Simpson was co-founder of the Saffir-Simpson Scale which is used to classify hurricanes by intensity.

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About the Author ()

Bill Murray is the President of The Weather Factory. He is the site's official weather historian and a weekend forecaster. He also anchors the site's severe weather coverage. Bill Murray is the proud holder of National Weather Association Digital Seal #0001 @wxhistorian

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