1941 Texas hurricane

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1941 Texas hurricane
Category 3 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Hurricane September 24, 1941 weather map.jpg
A daily weather map for September 24, 1941 depicting the storm
Formed September 16, 1941 (1941-09-16)
Dissipated September 24, 1941 (1941-09-25)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 125 mph (205 km/h)
Lowest pressure 942 mbar (hPa); 27.82 inHg
Fatalities 7 direct
Damage $6.5 million (1941 USD)
Areas affected Texas, Midwestern United States, eastern Canada
Part of the 1941 Atlantic hurricane season

The 1941 Texas hurricane, the second storm of the 1941 Atlantic hurricane season, was a tropical cyclone that struck coastal Texas in September 1941, causing relatively severe damage. The storm is estimated to have formed in the eastern Gulf of Mexico on September 16. After attaining hurricane strength, it completed a clockwise loop and turned northwestward. The hurricane made landfall near Matagorda, Texas and rapidly weakened. Damage from the storm amounted to about $6.5 million, and crops throughout the region were largely destroyed. The city of Houston suffered extensive damage as the storm passed to the east. The hurricane disrupted activities related to the Louisiana Maneuvers. Later, the system became extratropical and dissipated over Lake Huron, killing three people in Toronto. Overall, seven people lost their lives due to the cyclone.

Meteorological history[edit]

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale

Tropical Storm Two formed off the western coast of Florida on September 16, and began moving west-southwest.[1] Operationally, the cyclone was first observed as a slight disturbance on September 18, about 180 mi (290 km) to the south of Louisiana.[2] The storm turned slightly towards the northwest before attaining Category 1 hurricane status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, at which point its forward motion slowed to a drift. Gradually intensifying, the storm reached its peak strength with winds of 90 mph (150 km/h) early on September 20.[1] The cyclone began to drift southward toward the northern Yucatan Peninsula, ultimately completing a clockwise loop over the central Gulf of Mexico. After turning back towards the north, the storm sped up slightly; by late on September 21, it was situated near the region where it was first detected.[2]

By September 22, the hurricane had begun to weaken, although it maintained hurricane status for a couple more days. The cyclone tracked generally northwestward, crossing the western half of the gulf, and moved ashore near Matagorda, Texas, during the afternoon hours of September 23;[2] on making landfall, it weakened to a tropical storm.[1] Continuing inland, the storm, quickly deteriorating, accelerate northeastward. The center of the storm passed just to the east of Houston, where barometric pressure fell to 971 mb, the lowest recorded in association with the hurricane.[2] The storm became extratropical late on September 24, as it progressed rapidly through the Mississippi Valley; its remnants eventually entered southern portions of Quebec.[1][2]


In advance of the storm, advisories and warnings were widely distributed by press, radio, telegraph and telephone. About 25,000 residents evacuated their homes; some small towns along the coast were described as "deserted".[2] People in low-lying areas of coastal Louisiana sought shelter as storm surge from the hurricane affected the northern Gulf Coast.[3] Residents in Texas prepared their homes and businesses for the hurricane, and boat owners pulled their craft out of the water. In Port Arthur, structures were boarded up and hundreds of refugees sought shelter in local hotels. American Red Cross workers were dispatched to the state. In Houston, a temporary hospital was erected. Police and firefighters in the city were put on alert. Vessels near the storm were advised to proceed with caution.[4]


Overall damage from the storm totaled approximately $7 million, of which about $4 million can be attributed to the destruction of crops, notably rice and cotton.[2] The hurricane affected the southern Louisiana region one week before the Louisiana Maneuvers, a series of military exercises held during August and September 1941. The exercise was designed to test US troop training, logistics, doctrine, and commanders and is considered a prelude to World War II. The rainfall triggered flooding and swelled rivers, and army vehicles became stuck in the mud as a result.[5] Hundreds of military aircraft were forced to move inland for shelter.[3]

Winds along the coast of Texas reached 100 mph (160 km/h) at numerous points near the hurricane's center. A report from Galveston explained, "There was little characteristic sky appearance prior to the advent of the storm, the sky being mostly clear until lower clouds appeared suddenly between 6 and 7 a. m. C. S. T., on the 22d with altocumulus and alto-stratus overcast showing through breaks occasionally during the day. By late afternoon of the 22d the sky became completely overcast with low clouds of bad weather which predominated throughout the remainder of the storm."[2] Tides at the city, already slightly above-normal due to a previous storm, rose to a crest of 7 ft (2.1 m) on September 23, flooding large portions of Galveston Island. A local airport was flooded with 1 to 3 ft (0.30 to 0.91 m) of tidewater.[2]

As the hurricane moved inland, the city of Houston was hit especially hard. Three people in the area died and several others were injured.[6][7] Winds blew at up to 77 mph (124 km/h), catching many off-guard after a previous forecast that deemed the region was safe. Some sections of the city were left without power. The winds destroyed poorly built structures and damaged others, and some streets were flooded. An athletic stadium was demolished by the storm, and glass windows were shattered in downtown stores. A preliminary estimate placed the damage in Houston at $500,000. In the aftermath of the storm, fifteen truckloads of shattered glass were removed.[8]

After spreading across the United States, the remnants moved through Ontario and Quebec, producing hurricane force wind gusts and 40 ft (12 m) waves along Lake Ontario. Throughout the lake, 55 vessels sunk due to the storm, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in damage. High winds caused power outages and structural damage, as well as destroyed wheat fields across Ontario. In Toronto, the storm killed three people and injured others.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d National Hurricane Center; Hurricane Research Division (April 1, 2014). "Atlantic hurricane best track (HURDAT version 2)". United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Howard C. Sumner (1942). "North Atlantic Tropical Disturbances of 1941" (PDF). Weather Bureau. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Gulf Storm Is Headed For Texas". The Evening Independent. September 22, 1941. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  4. ^ "Hurricane Poised To Hit Texas". The Evening Independent. September 23, 1941. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  5. ^ Velmer Lenora Smith. "World War II — Louisiana Maneuvers". Beauregard Parish Library. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  6. ^ "Hurricane Hits Houston In Twist". The New York Times. September 25, 1941. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  7. ^ "Hurricane Races North Raging Thru Texas". Ludington Daily News. September 24, 1941. Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  8. ^ "Damage In Millions As Hurricane Hits Texas". The Evening Independent. September 24, 1941. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  9. ^ Canadian Hurricane Centre (2009-09-14). "1941-2". Retrieved 2011-07-29. 

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