The Big Storm: Galveston 1900

Ike entering the Gulf

Imagine if you will living in the Gulf Coast area of the United States in 1900. Hurricanes were prevalent as they are today. There was one major difference though. Today a hurricane’s movements are tracked by satellite and advanced meteorological techniques and equipment. There is usually advance warning. Still nothing can be done to change their course or dissipate them.

September 8, 1900 was a normal weekend for Galveston, Texas’s 38,000 residents. Everyone went about their normal business while families played in the surf. Those in the area were unaware of the threat of a hurricane. Doppler radar and satellites didn’t exist yet.

Within a few hours winds rose to 120 miles an hour. Later in the day a 15-foot storm surge was battering Galveston. No one had evacuated, there was no where to run.

This storm still stands today as the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. The death toll was 6,000-12,000 persons. The exact number can never be known because many were swept out to sea never to be seen again.

Unfortunately Galveston was recently hit hard by Hurricane Ike, but at least this time people had a chance to evacuate. The city was heavily damaged, but loss of life was low at around 34 persons.

Nature’s fury can’t be conquered, but with advance warning we can run and hide.


11 Responses to The Big Storm: Galveston 1900

  1. kaytilyn says:

    i cant belive that happen , but we have better techlongigly now that it easyier and not as bad , hard it was in the past!! 🙂

  2. stamperdad says:

    Thanks for all the comments folks. Appreciate your interest.


  3. We are most fortunate, being in a better position this century to determine the course of storms and be able to protect ourselves. We have to remember it wasn’t always possible, and this was a terrible tragedy indeed. Nature is so powerful. Good post, as always.

  4. Kip de Moll says:

    it’s a great perspective to realize how much more technology we have, and how sometimes it actually serves us well. I had a friend who was a weatherman in Oregon in the 1930’s and all they really had for help was a radio transmition to ships passing by to know what tomorrow’s weather was going to be.

  5. stamperdad says:

    Pappy hope you and yours weathered the storms OK. You seem far enough south to miss them most of the time.

    Thanks for reading.

  6. Dennis Price says:

    Build low, pay high. Folks were fine for many years, but when you live in areas close to the big water, you need to be ready to rebuild when the big storms hit. It’s great living most of the time, but occasionally you want to be anywhere else but there. Pappy

  7. stamperdad says:

    Interesting but scary. Thank goodness for satellite imaging and doppler radar. Thanks for the comments folks. Glad you enjoyed the post.


  8. I actually grew up in Galveston, and it is still a huge part of living there! A huge wall has been erected on the beach front to keep out any future flood waters and it’s in all of the local history books. Interesting stuff!!

  9. Rachel says:

    I watched a History Channel show on that storm. It was devastating. Growing up on Florida’s east coast, I weathered a few hurricanes, but never anything like that one!

  10. stamperdad says:

    It was a very tragic event. Thanks for reading.


  11. bunnygirl says:

    No one who lives in the Houston-Galveston area is ever far from a thought about that storm, even though we have quite a reputation for having little interest in our history. There’s a cemetery on one of my running routes here in inner-loop Houston that has the grave of two teenage sisters who were killed in the storm. The stone has a poem that explains how they went to Galveston for a holiday and then the storm came. The storm was devastating to Galveston’s economy and gave Houston an opportunity to establish itself as a more secure port.

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