On September 8, 1900, a Category 4 hurricane ripped through Galveston, Texas, killing an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 people. A 15-foot storm surge flooded the city, which was then situated at less than 9 feet above sea level, and numerous homes and buildings were destroyed. The hurricane remains the worst weather-related disaster in U.S. history in terms of loss of life.
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On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States. Nearly 2,000 people died in the storm and its aftermath, and hundreds of thousands more were displaced from their homes.
On April 18, 1906, a devastating earthquake shook San Francisco in the early morning hours, leaving the city in shambles.
On January 17, 1994, an earthquake rocked Los Angeles, California, killing 54 people and causing billions of dollars in damages.
On October 17, 1989, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area, killing 67 people and causing more than $5 billion in damages.
Did You Know?
The word "hurricane" comes from Hurican, the Carib god of evil.
Galveston, Texas: Background
Galveston, first visited by French and Spanish explorers in the 16th and 17th centuries, is located on Galveston Island, a 29-mile strip of land about two miles off the Texas coast and about 50 miles southeast of Houston. The city, which was named in the late 18th century for the Spanish governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez (1746-86), was incorporated in 1839 and is linked to the mainland by bridges and causeways. Galveston is a commercial shipping port and, with its warm weather and miles of beaches, has also long been a popular resort.
Galveston Hurricane: September 8, 1900
At the time of the 1900 hurricane, Galveston, nicknamed the Oleander City, was filled with vacationers. Sophisticated weather forecasting technology didn't exist at the time, but the U.S. Weather Bureau issued warnings telling people to move to higher ground. However, these advisories were ignored by many vacationers and residents alike.
On September 8, a Category 4 hurricane ripped through Galveston, killing an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 people. A 15-foot storm surge flooded the city, which was then situated at less than 9 feet above sea level, and numerous homes and buildings were destroyed.
After the hurricane, a large seawall was eventually built to protect Galveston from flooding. The city was pummeled again by major hurricanes in 1961 and 1983, but they caused less damage than the one that struck in 1900.
National Weather Service and Hurricane Names
In 1953, the U.S. National Weather Service, which tracks hurricanes and issues advisories, started giving storms female names in order to help scientists and the public follow them. Beginning in 1979, men's names were also used. The World Meteorological Organization assigns one name for each letter of the alphabet, with the exception of Q, U and Z. The lists of names are reused every six years; however, when a hurricane is especially deadly or costly its name is retired and a new name is added to the list. In 2006, "Katrina," along with four other names from the 2005 hurricane season, was taken out of service. Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast states in August 2005, was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.
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