History and Weather Disasters: The 1900 Galveston Storm I


Within the years before the exact date of September 8, 1990, a beautiful and enchanting city of Galveston was bustling with life and prosperity. From a being a small settlement, Galveston had grown into one of Texas’ wealthiest cities in the entire country. The city became Texas’s most important sea port due to a deepwater channel of natural origin. Ships and Trains pass through Galveston and about 70% of the United States’ cotton crop passes the port of the city. Not only that, but about 1000 ships had called on the Galveston port every year at that time.

The people who had the money within the country went to Galveston to bask in the relaxing warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It was considered as therapeutic since the water was shallow enough to make sure one is safely wading in it. The Beach hotel used to be a destination for tourists and people who wanted to unwind. That is, before it burned sometime before the storm in 1900. Galveston had a population of about 37,000 and was the first city to have electricity and had the first telephones. Unfortunately, an event would come and change Galveston, amidst its prosperity, forever.

The city of Galveston did think about building a seawall so that the city will be protected from high tides and storm surges as well. But it was never materialized since there had been no major weather disaster that struck them in the recent years before 1900 and that’s why the citizens had felt secured enough to not built it.

They should have built it.

On morning of September 8, 1900 the waters had started rising slowly. The residents did not mind it much as they still went on their daily routine. That is until the chief meteorologist of the United States Weather, Cline, made observations starting 5 in the morning when he had noticed that the water from the gulf kept on rising over the lower ends of the island. Among his observations were higher wind speeds and the barometer drop while the storm swells was beginning to rise.

According to Cline’s memoirs, he had known the moment of incoming danger. So he rode on his horse and tried to warn the people on the beach, imploring them to go home and told the residents to get to higher ground. During 1900, higher ground was a term which relative since the house placed on highest ground was only at an elevation level between 8 to 9 feet. But despite Cline’s warnings, the night approached that made his preparations seem fruitless.

On the peak of the storm that night, every inch of dry land on the city of Galveston was entirely covered with water. Cline wrote in his memoirs called “Storms, Flood and Sunshine.” Published in 1945 under Pelican Publishing, “In reality, there was no island, just the ocean with houses standing out of the waves which rolled between them,” He kept relaying messages all day to the Weather Service’s central office, but later on the lines had went down so he wasn’t able to continue. Cline went home located near the beach despite the deep water and found refuge along with 50 people at his house.

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