Hurricane Alicia


Hurricane Alicia

Infobox Hurricane
Name=Hurricane Alicia | Type=hurricane
Year=1983
Basin=Atl
Image location=Hurricane Alicia 1983.jpg


Formed=August 15, 1983
Dissipated=August 21, 1983
1-min winds=100
Pressure=963
Da

Inflated=1
Fatalities=21 direct
Areas=Eastern Texas (particularly around Houston) and Louisiana
Hurricane season=1983 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Alicia was the third depression, the first tropical storm, and the only major hurricane of the 1983 Atlantic hurricane season. It struck Galveston and Houston, Texas directly, causing $2.6 billion USD ($5.27 billion 2006 USD) in damage and killing 21 people; this made it the worst Texas hurricane since Hurricane Carla (1961 season),cite web
author=National Hurricane Center (NHC) | year=1983
title=Hurricane Alicia Preliminary Report: Page 1-Storm History
publisher=NHC | accessdate=2007-04-02 | url = http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/atlantic/atl1983-prelim/alicia/prelim01.gif
] and Texas' first billion-dollar storm.cite web
author=Texas State Library | year=2007 | title=Texas Governors
publisher=Texas State Library | accessdate=2007-04-02
url=http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/governors/modern/page2.html
] Hurricane Alicia became the last major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) to strike Texas until the stronger Hurricane Bret in 1999 made landfall. Alicia was the first storm for which the National Hurricane Center issued landfall probabilities.

Hurricane Alicia was notable for the delayed evacuation of Galveston Island (since the eye of the storm traveled the evacuation route up I-45 from Galveston to Houston). The hurricane was also notable for the shattering of many windows in downtown Houston by loose gravel from the roofs of new skyscrapers and by other debris, prompting changes to rooftop construction codes.Fact|date=September 2008

Hurricane Alicia was the first hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland since Hurricane Allen in August 1980. The time between the two storms totaled out to three years and eight days (998 days). The time was a major streak and the longest-a previous record was the period of almost three years occurring September 1929 to August 1932.

Meteorological history

A mesoscale low-pressure area formed off the Alabama and Mississippi coasts on August 14 near the west end of a weak frontal trough that had extended across the eastern seaboard. Pressures were high in the Gulf of Mexico, but the low strengthened into Tropical Depression Three on August 15, and became Tropical Storm Alicia later that day. With the high Gulf pressures – a ship reported a pressure of 1015.5 millibars less than convert|60|mi|km from the storm center at the time it was upgraded to a tropical storm – Alicia was unable to gain size, staying very small, but generated faster winds, and became a Category 1 hurricane on August 16

Steering currents were weak during Alicia's lifetime over water. A new frontal ridge had formed on August 17 which caused the storm to drift in a westerly direction. Alicia continued west until the frontal ridge had subsided to the east.cite web
author=Robert Case and Harold Gerrish | year=1984
title=1983 Monthly Weather Review
publisher=National Hurricane Center | accessdate=2007-04-02
url=http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0493/112/5/pdf/i1520-0493-112-5-1083.pdf
] Alicia turned to a more northerly direction on August 18, towards Port Arthur, Texas. During that time, the hurricane began to gain strength at about 1 mbar an hour, peaking at 963 mbar with winds of 115 mph (185 km/h) on the morning of the 18th. Just before landfall, Alicia exhibited a rare "double eye" feature for several hours.cite web
author=U.S. Army | year=2007 | accessdate=2007-04-02
title=STORM DEVELOPMENT AND HISTORY | publisher=US Army | url= http://chps.sam.usace.army.mil/USHESdata/Assessments/alicia/meteorology.htm
] The storm made landfall near Galveston, Texas as a Category 3 hurricane at about 2:00 a.m. CDT on Thursday, August 18. Alicia weakened rapidly after landfall, losing tropical characteristics and accelerated to the northwest, finally losing its identity in the southeast tip of Nebraska on August 21.

Preparations

Several watches and warnings were issued in association with Alicia. The first ones were a gale warning and a hurricane watch for the area between Corpus Christi, Texas and Grand Isle, Louisiana issued on August 16. On August 17, a hurricane warning was issued for the coastline from Corpus Christi to Morgan City, Louisiana, and later for Port Arthur, Texas southward.cite web
author=National Hurricane Center (NHC) | year=1983
title=Hurricane Alicia Preliminary Report - Page 4 - Strike Probs - Watches/Warnings
publisher=NHC | accessdate=2007-04-02 | url = http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/atlantic/atl1983-prelim/alicia/prelim04.gif
] Initially, however, residents did not take the warnings seriously. Galveston Mayor E. Gus Manuel, against the advice of Texas Governor Mark White, ordered the evacuation of only low-lying areas.Citation
last=Isaacson | first=Walter | author-link = Walter Isaacson
title = Coping with Nature | newspaper = TIME
year = 1983 | date = 1983-08-29 | url = http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,949758,00.html
] (About 30 percent of Galveston's population evacuated the island when Hurricane Allen threatened the eastern Texas coastline in 1980; only 10 percent of the population living behind the seawall chose to leave when Alicia came ashore.)cite web
author=U.S.A. Today | year=2007
title=Hurricane Alicia, 1983 | publisher=U.S.A. Today
accessdate=2007-04-02 | url = http://www.usatoday.com/weather/huricane/history/walicia.htm
] Throughout the day, however, as the increasing winds began to cause damage in Galveston, people grew more concerned. The mayor finally ordered a widespread evacuation of the island after midnight on August 18, but by then, the bridges to the mainland were uncrossable.

Impact

Texas

Galveston reported 7¾ inches (197 mm) of rain, Liberty reported 9½ inches (241 mm) of rain, and Greens Bayou reported almost 10 inches (254 mm). Centerville reported over 8 inches (203 mm), with Normangee and Noxia reporting over 7 inches (178 mm).cite web
url=http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/atlantic/atl1983-prelim/alicia/prelim05.gif
title=Hurricane Alicia Preliminary Report - Page 5
author=NHC
date=1983
] Maximum rainfall in the Houston area in Harris County was about 10-11 inches (254-279 mm), while convert|8|in|mm of rain was reported in Leon County and 9 inches (229 mm) in the Sabine River area. High gusts were reported throughout Texas, with a maximum gust of convert|125|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on reported on the Coast Guard cutter Buttonwood (WLB-306) stationed at the northeastern tip of Galveston Island. Pleasure Pier reported tides of 8.67 feet (2.6 m), with Pier 21 reporting a little over 5.5 feet (1.7 m). Baytown, Texas reported 10-12 ft tides, and Morgan City reported 12.1 ft (3.7 m), the highest recorded as a result of Alicia. The storm also caused extensive disruption of power services. A Paul Simon concert scheduled for the Astrodome was cancelled due to the coming storm.

Twenty-three tornadoes were reported in association with Alicia. Fourteen of those were located in the Galveston and Hobby Airport area. The other nine were concentrated around Tyler to Houston, Texas,cite web
author=National Hurricane Center (NHC) | year=1983
title=Hurricane Alicia Prelimary Report - Page 2 - Impact
publisher=NHC | accessdate=2007-04-02 | url = http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/atlantic/atl1983-prelim/alicia/prelim02.gif
] ranging around F2 on the Fujita scale.Fact|date=September 2008

A major oil spill occurred around Texas City, and an ocean-going tugboat capsized convert|50|mi|km off the Sabine Pass coast.cite web
author=National Weather Office - Lake Charles, LA
year=2007 |title=Texas Hurricane History: Late 20th Century
publisher=NOAA | accessdate=2007-04-02
url = http://www.srh.noaa.gov/lch/research/txlate20hur2.php
] The Coast Guard Air Station Houston (AIRSTA) weathered Alicia with little damage, and afterwards AIRSTA's helicopters assisted residents with evacuation, supply, and survey flights.cite web
author=U.S. Military | year=2007 | title=Houston Coast Guard
publisher=U.S. Military | accessdate=2007-04-02
url=http://www.uscg.mil/D8/airstahouston/publica-history.html
Dead link|date=September 2008]

Sixty gallons of water had to be removed from the National Weather Service office in Galveston; this weather office also temporarily lost its radar.cite web
author=U.S. Army | year=2007 | title=Warnings
publisher=U.S. Army | accessdate=2007-04-02 | url = http://chps.sam.usace.army.mil/USHESDATA/Assessments/alicia/warnings.htm
] Houston suffered billions of dollars in damage. Thousands of glass panes in downtown skyscrapers were shattered by gravel blown off rooftops. Although Alicia was a small Category 3 hurricane, a total of 2297 dwellings were destroyed by Alicia, with another 3000+ experiencing major damage. Over ten thousand dwellings had minor damage. Houston Lighting and Power reported that about 750,000 homes were without electricity after Alicia hit. Many stores had to stay closed for days afterward due to risks of falling glass in the area.cite web
author=Unknown | year=2007 | accessdate=2007-04-02
title=Bayside hurricane's Alicia page | publisher=Geocities
url=http://www.geocities.com/baysidehurricanes/alicia.html
]

In Galveston, the western beach had its public beach boundary shifted back about convert|150|ft|m. About 5 feet (1.5 m) of sand was scoured, leaving beachfront homes in a natural vegetation state. This moved many beachfront homes onto public beach, and the Attorney General's office declared that they were in violation of the Texas Open Beaches Act and forbade the repair or rebuilding of those homes. The Corps of Engineers stated that if the Galveston Sea Wall had not been there, that another $100 million in damage could have occurred. Also, if Alicia had been the size of Hurricane Carla from 1961, damage could have easily doubled or possibly tripled.cite web
author=National Weather Office - Houston-Galveston |year=2007
title=Upper Texas Coast Tropical Cyclones in the 1980s
publisher=NOAA | accessdate=2007-04-02 | url = http://www.srh.weather.gov/hgx/hurricanes/1980s.htm
] Alicia also did damage to chemical and petrochemical plants in Houston.cite web
author=Mark Levitan | year=2007
title=Are Chemical Plants Really Safe?
publisher=Louisiana State University | accessdate=2007-04-02
url = http://hurricane.lsu.edu/_unzipped/levitan_paper1/levitan_paper1.PDF
]

Other states

Heavy amounts of rainfall were recorded with 8-14 centimeters in the south-central part of the state, from a curved swath.Or|date=September 2008 Rain reached up to 5 inches (127 mm) in the same area, however rainfall was limited to that area. Kansas only got 1-3 inches (25-76 mm), which were recorded in the eastern to central parts of the state. The southeast tip of Nebraska received one inch (25 mm) of rain from Alicia's remnants. Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Louisiana and Wisconsin all received one inch of rainfall. cite web
author=David Roth | year=2007 | accessdate=2007-04-02
title=Tropical Cyclone Rainfall: Hurricane Alicia
publisher=Hydrometeorogical Prediction Center
url=http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/tropical/rain/alicia1983.html
]

Alicia brought beneficial rains to the Southern Plains, which had been suffering from a drought for much of the Summer of 1983. In the end, Alicia killed 21 people and caused $2 billion in damage ($5.27 billion in 2006 USD).

Aftermath

The Red Cross had to provide food and shelter to 63,000 people in the hurricane's wake, costing about 166 million dollars. FEMA gave out $32 million (1983 USD) to Alicia's victims and local governments. $23 million of that was for picking up debris spread after Alicia. More than 16,000 people sought help from FEMA's disaster service centers. The Small Business Administration, aided with 56 volunteers, interviewed over 16,000 victims, and it was predicted that about 7000 loan applications would be submitted. The Federal Insurance Agency had closed over 1318 flood insurance cases from Alicia's aftermath, however only 782 received final payment.

On September 23 and September 24, 1983, in the wake of Alicia, two subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives held hearings in Houston. The hearing on September 23 were to examine the primary issues of the National Weather Service during Alicia, the effectiveness of the N.W.S in current procedures, and the use of the National Weather Service. The second hearing, which occurred on September 24, was to discuss the damage and recovery efforts during Alicia.

During the September 23 hearing, witnesses agreed that the National Weather Service (NWS) did well before and during the emergency caused by Alicia. NWS forecasters also testified in which they said they gratified themselves that their predictions were well "on target" and that the local emergency plans had worked so well, which saved many lives. Mayor Gus Manuel on Galveston claimed that the NWS did an excellent job during Alicia. He was also very impressed about their landfall predictions on August 17, before Alicia made landfall.

During the September 24 hearing, evidence was presented which demonstrated the need for improving readiness to cope with disasters, such as Alicia. Mayor Manuel mentioned that his town needed stronger building codes, which were under review.cite web
author=Subcommittee on Natural Resources, Agriculture Research and Environment
title=Hurricane Alicia: Prediction, Damage & Recovery Efforts
publisher=(same) | year=1983 | accessdate=2007-04-02
url=http://www.loc.gov/rr/law/floods98-81.pdf
]

Retirement

Due to extensive property destruction the name "Alicia" was retired in the spring of 1984, became the 30th storm name to be retired and will never be used again for an Atlantic hurricane. It was replaced with "Allison" in the 1989 season. The name "Allison", though, was retired after Tropical Storm Allison caused major flood damage in June 2001, with much of the flooding affecting the same areas damaged by Alicia.

ee also

* List of Texas hurricanes
* List of retired Atlantic hurricane names

References

External links

* [ftp://ftp.nhc.noaa.gov/pub/storm_archives/atlantic/prelimat/atl1983/alicia/ NHC Alicia Report]


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