History and Weather Disasters: The 1900 Galveston Storm III

Not much is known about what the exact conditions of the weather during the 1900 Galveston hurricane was. Chief meteorologist Isaac Cline and other meteorologist of 1900 used instruments that are very far from the likes of our weather technology today. Not much was known about cyclones that were tropical, as hurricanes were what was called then. The night of terror when the Galveston storm came crashing through the shore of the coastal town inspired Cline to dedicate the rest of his career in studying hurricanes so that the world would be prepared for destructives cyclones. So that the world in the future, relative to his time, would not have to experience the sudden horror of the 1900 Galveston storm.

During the storm, the wind speed could only be estimated as it furiously ripped the entire coast into shreds. So there really is not enough date about the historical disaster due to the lack of measuring technology in the past. According to Cline, the winds might have gone past 120 miles per hour- and that’s his estimate. Today, with our learned knowledge of hurricanes and storms; and our advanced technology to measure weather related phenomenon, the National Weather Service had also made an estimate. NWS stated that the wind speed during the 1900 Galveston storm might have been between 130 miles to 140 miles per hour. This speed was the cause of the extreme storm surge by the tide on that fatefully dreadful night.

The storm surge that had rolled onto the island was a staggering 15 foot and a half from the gulf up to the bay. Structures collapsed and the storm surge continued on. It was a wall of water so high pushing debris that was about 2 stories high pushed across the land. The wall of water and debris gained strength as it kept moving and spared none of its wrath. Isaac Cline’s family was in the way of the storm surge. As a trolley trestle that broke away from its moorings, the surge picked it up and battered the Cline’s home until it had collapsed. Isaac’s family was not spared and some of them fell into the crushing waves. In Clines memoir, he had wrote that “The battle for our lives, against the elements and the terrific hurricane winds and storm-tossed wreckage, lasted from 8 p.m. until near midnight. This struggle to live continued through one of the darkest of nights with only an occasional flash of lightning which revealed the terrible carnage about us.”

When the surge stopped, the debris that it carried served as a wall that prevented the other buildings to crumble. Despite this, only a few structures were undamaged. Pictures that were taken after the storm showed the empty street. Not a single soul was there. No trees, no animal and no people- there were only piles of debris. There was a stench of dead bodies, both from animals and people who had died that night. Technically, Galveston was destroyed on that one night. A news paper that recorded the accounts of that entire week had said that no one had escaped the storm from the loss of property and the loss of loved ones.

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