Posted by JR Olson | Posted in History | Posted on 30-09-2014
Tropical storm and hurricane season for the Eastern Pacific region typically begins May 15th and runs through November 30th. During the 2013 Eastern Pacific Basin hurricane season alone, there were 18 named storms, including eight that later became hurricanes. The difference between tropical storms and hurricanes (including major hurricanes) has to do with the wind speed of the storm, with hurricane wind speeds measuring at 80 miles per hour or higher. The most recent major hurricane to hit the Eastern Pacific basin was Hurricane Raymond on October 19-23, 2013. The storm, whose largest impact was on Acapulco, Mexico, reached a maximum wind speed of 125 miles per hour.
Houston, Texas is affected by many of the tropical storms and hurricanes that originate in the Eastern Pacific basin. The powerful winds caused by such storms result in power outages and have caused some of the worst blackouts in Houston’s history.
• Hurricane Alicia (August 15-21, 1983) Hurricane Alicia struck the Eastern Pacific basin on August 15, 1983 and made it inland through Texas on August 18th as a Category 3 hurricane. At one point, as the storm rode through Houston, winds of 94 miles per hour and wind gusts of 107 miles per hour were recorded at Houston Hobby Airport. The storm and its resulting winds caused nearly $3 billion in damages, sweeping across a path just Northwest of US-45 in Houston. The Houston Chronicle reported five deaths were attributed to the storm, and power outages lasted up to a week for some residents.
• Hurricane Ike (September 1-14, 2008) Hurricane Ike arrived at the Texas mainland through Galveston Bay on September 13, 2008. Reaching a maximum speed of 116 miles per hour, the storm wreaked between $30 and $50 billion in damage and ranks as the third costliest storm in the United States (behind Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy). The storm caused the longest sustained power outage in Houston’s history, with more than 2 million power grid users affected by the hurricane. Residents experienced power outages for a period of four days to one week, as Houston area power companies worked to restore electricity. The experience of Houston residents affected by the storm related blackout was similar to the November 1965 Northeast Blackout.
• Tropical Storm Allison (June 4-18, 2001) Houston was most affected by the damage caused by Tropical Storm Allison, the deadliest and costliest tropical storm in United States history. The storm, which impacted Houston June 7-9, caused $5 billion in damages; of the $5 billion damage estimate amount as reported by FEMA, $4.8 billion in damages was sustained by Houston, which included: $2.04 billion in damages to public facilities, $1.76 to residential property and $1.08 billion in damages to commercial properties. The storm produced a rainfall of over 35 inches that fell for a period of six days, including a peak rainfall of 36.99 inches at the Port of Houston. The flooding and other storm related damages caused the disruption of medical services for several days due to large-scale power outages.
Gary Belmont is a freelance writer based in Seattle, WA. Though it has had its fair share of electricity troubles, there are still electric companies in Houston which offer affordable and reliable electricity service, such as Tara Energy.