Dash Talk

Our hurricane history and the 2020 hurricane forecast

Yesterday, Dr. Phil Klotzbach’s highly anticipated early hurricane forecast went public:

2020 Above Average Hurricane Forecast

Meteorologist Eric Braate summed up the prediction for an above average year right here explaining this forecast and the role of La Niña and warm water. But there is another predictor that Klotzbach takes into consideration: what years in the past had similar setups in terms of La Niña, water temps, upper-level winds and pressure readings around the world. And in those similar years, what happened then? Were those also above average?

You know how I love data and I’ve gone back to see just what those years meant to Texas. Honestly, some good, some bad, so take a breath. The comparison years are 1960, 1966, 1980, 1996, and 2008.

First up: 1960.

Tropical Storm One PATH
Tropical Storm One 1960

1960 did not have much action for Texas, but there was Tropical Storm One which is one of those sneaky storms. The storm never got a name and never had a strong circulation, but like weaker storms around here became a big rainmaker with almost 30″ of rain in Port Lavaca. Weirdly, this storm began life on June 22, 1960, which is the exact same day I began life and who knew we’d both end up in Houston?

The next season, 1966, left Texas completely alone and, in fact, didn’t do much to the Gulf:

1966 Hurricane Paths

But 1980 was another story. The season actually started in July with Tropical Depression One going into Galveston, but minimal impacts occurred with only 3-4″ of rain. Next came Allen in August, a Category 5 hurricane as it entered the Gulf weakening to a Cat. 3 before striking Brownsville.

Hurricane Allen 1980 enters the Gulf

Allen caused 290 deaths, 24 of them in the USA, dropped 20″ of rain and caused $1.5 billion in damage. Believe it or not, Tropical Storm Danielle would follow in September, moving into Beaumont where Nederland picked up 18″ of rain. I-10 flooded and three people died. The 1980 season lasted well into November and Texans were glad to see it go.

Next on the list, 1996, left Texas alone, but this was the year of Bertha and Fran along the North Carolina coasts which caused massive flooding in that state:

1966 Hurricane Paths

Finally, there was 2008, the Ike year. Before Ike, however, was Hurricane Dolly in Brownsville dropping 15″ of rain in Harlingen and causing damage to South Padre. That was soon followed in August by Edouard which scraped along the northern Gulf coast drowning 6 people. Edouard moved into Baytown with little fanfare, fortunately, and only 6-7″ of rain. We missed that bullet.

But 110-mph Ike would lumber along in September 2008, making a direct, destroying hit on Bolivar. Flooding in Galveston and along the bay was massive, electricity was out for three weeks. More than 200 people died and damages exceeded $38 billion. I could post plenty of damage shots, but the picture below following Ike’s wrath is the one I want to show. In these trying times, this speaks more to the resilience of whatever we faced then, face now and face going forward. Please consider this my virtual hug to all of you.

After Ike

Stay safe this weekend and God bless you.


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