Hurricane Beulah

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Hurricane Beulah
Category 5 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Hurricane Beulah in the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 5.
Formed September 5, 1967 (1967-09-05)
Dissipated September 22, 1967 (1967-09-23)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 160 mph (260 km/h)
Lowest pressure ≤ 923 mbar (hPa); 27.26 inHg
Fatalities 688 direct
Damage $1 billion (1967 USD)
Areas affected Greater Antilles, Yucatán Peninsula, Northeast Mexico, South Texas
Part of the 1967 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Beulah was the second tropical storm, second hurricane, and only major hurricane during the 1967 Atlantic hurricane season. It tracked through the Caribbean, struck the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico as a major hurricane, and moved west-northwest into the Gulf of Mexico, briefly gaining Category 5 intensity. It was the strongest hurricane during the 1967 Atlantic hurricane season. The hurricane made landfall in northeastern Mexico with winds near 160 mph (257 km/h). The cyclone then weakened before moving into Texas as a major hurricane. It spawned 115 tornadoes across Texas, which established a new record for the highest amount of tornadoes produced by a tropical cyclone. Due to its slow movement over Texas, Beulah led to significant flooding. At the time, Beulah ranked as the second-costliest hurricane on record, having left roughly $1 billion (1967 USD) in damage. Only Hurricane Betsy two years prior had caused such considerable losses.[1] Throughout its path, at least 688 people were killed.

Meteorological history[edit]

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

A convective area in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) developed into a tropical depression on September 5 east of the Lesser Antilles. It moved slowly through the islands, and on September 7 it became Tropical Storm Beulah. The next day Beulah reached hurricane strength while continuing slowly west-northwestward. It began to rapidly intensify, reaching an initial peak of 150 miles per hour (240 km/h) winds while south of the Mona Passage. It passed south of Hispaniola. Land interaction and upper level shear greatly weakened the hurricane to a 60 mph (97 km/h) tropical storm.

Once over the western Caribbean, favorable conditions again returned, letting Beulah strengthen to a 115 miles per hour (185 km/h) major hurricane. On September 16, Beulah weakened and made landfall near Cozumel, Mexico, as a 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) hurricane. It weakened slightly over land, but once over the Gulf of Mexico, conditions were very favorable. It rapidly intensified, reaching its peak as a Category 5 storm with 160 miles per hour (260 km/h) winds. In terms of size, Beulah became the third largest hurricane on record, at the time.[2]

This picture cloud structure within the eye of Hurricane Beulah was taken by a United States Air Force RB-57F aircraft at an altitude above 60,000 feet while 150 miles offshore Tampico, Mexico at 2200 UTC on September 19, 1967

Subsequently, Hurricane Beulah made landfall south of the mouth of the Rio Grande as a Category 5 storm.[3] However, the hurricane weakened over land and produced Category 3 conditions in Texas.[4] Beulah drifted over Texas, moving southwestward into Mexico where it dissipated on September 22.


Beginning on the afternoon of September 17, people were advised to remain off the beaches of Padre, Mustang, and St. Joseph Islands. Immediate evacuation of Port Aransas and Mustang, Padre, and St. Joseph Islands was advised on the morning of September 19. Most residents and others on the islands evacuated, including the personnel of Padre Island National Seashore. About 40 persons remained on the islands, including about 20 at Port Aransas. Immediate evacuation of Rockport and Live Oak and Lamar Peninsulas was advised in the evening of September 19. These areas and the towns of Ingleside and Aransas Pass were nearly completely evacuated. About 50 persons remained in Rockport. The evacuation of the University of Corpus Christi was advised on the morning of September 20, and Corpus Christi Beach and parts of Flour Bluff were also evacuated. During the storm there were 30,000 people in shelters in Nueces and San Patricio Counties, including 6,000 in Corpus Christi.[5]



Beulah Rainfall

The periphery of the hurricane brought rainfall primarily to southwestern Puerto Rico, where a maximum of 9.76 inches (248 mm) fell at Maricao.[6] Only one death occurred in Hispaniola, due to proper evacuations, as opposed to Hurricane Inez a year earlier that caused 1,000 deaths.

Across the French island of Martinique, the then tropical storm wrought severe damage and killed at least 13 people. Many homes were destroyed and the island's banana crop was lost due to 3 ft (0.91 m) flood waters.[7]


Striking Cozumel Island and the Yucatan Peninsula on September 17 as Category 2 hurricane, Beulah caused considerable damage and killed 11 people across the region. Wind gusts up to 125 mph (205 km/h) severed communication lines, downed power lines and felled trees.[1] In Mérida, Yucatán, winds were recorded up to 75 mph (120 km/h). Under the force of the powerful winds, several structures collapsed across the Peninsula, resulting in six fatalities.[8] Nearly every buildings on Cozumel Island sustained damage, roughly half of which lost their roofs.[9] Four people were also killed in Playa del Carmen. Along the coast, Beulah's storm surge flooded areas within 600 yd (550 m) of the coastline, washing out roads and leaving "graveyards of boats."[8] Throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, an estimated 5,000 people were left homeless and at least 30,000 were affected by the storm.[10]

Throughout Mexico, Beulah killed 630 people.[11]

United States[edit]

In Texas upon landfall, an 18 feet (5.5 m) to 20 feet (6.1 m) storm surge inundated lower Padre Island. The force of the storm tide made 31 cuts completely through the barrier island.[2] Padre Island suffered significant devastation, and the island's sensitive ecosystem was altered by the storm. The highest sustained wind was reported as 136 miles per hour (219 km/h), recorded in the town of South Padre Island, across the Laguna Madre from Port Isabel. Winds as high as 109 miles per hour (175 km/h) were measured at the Brownsville National Weather Service office at landfall. Since the hurricane bent the anemometer 30 degrees from the vertical, it is possible the winds at Brownsville were underestimated.[12] Gusts of over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) were recorded as far inland as the towns of McAllen, Edinburg, Mission, and Pharr, some 50 miles (80 km) from the gulf coast. Beulah spawned a record 115 tornadoes[13] which destroyed homes, commercial property, and inflicted serious damage on the region's agricultural industry. The tornado record from Beulah would survive until Hurricane Ivan set a new record in 2004. The Rio Grande Valley's citrus industry, based on cultivation of the famous "Ruby Red" grapefruit, was particularly hard hit.

Damage and Flooding in Brownsville, Texas from Hurricane Beulah.

The lower Rio Grande Valley, the four county region that comprises deep south Texas, was inundated with torrential rains. Within a 36 hour period it dropped over 27 inches (690 mm) of rain near Beeville, Texas.[14] Falfurrias received more rain from Beulah than it normally records during one year. Areas south of Laredo, San Antonio, and Matagorda were isolated for more than a week due to the resulting flood.[2] On September 28, President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared twenty-four counties in southern Texas a disaster area.[15]

Animal life in the region responded in various ways to survive. Ants survived the floods by congregating in spheres of living colonies and floated down streams to safety. Predaceous beetle larvae preyed on frogs and rodents. Crustaceans from the beaches migrated en masse to the protection of high ground.[16]

Hurricane Beulah caused an estimated US$1.41 billion (2010 dollars) in damage. Sources report either 58 or 59 total deaths from the storm.[17]


Across the Yucatan Peninsula, the Government of Mexico set up an air lift of food and medical supplies to isolated areas by September 18.[8]

The name Beulah was retired and will never be used for an Atlantic hurricane again;[12] it was replaced with Beth in 1971.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Hurricane Beulah Preliminary Report" (PDF). National Weather Bureau. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. September 29, 1967. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c David M. Roth. Texas Hurricane History: Late 20th Century. Retrieved on 2007-06-23.
  3. ^ National Hurricane Center; Hurricane Research Division (April 1, 2014). "Atlantic hurricane best track (HURDAT version 2)". United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  4. ^ Eric S. Blake, Jerry D. Jarrell, Max Mayfield, and Edward N. Rappaport. The Most Intense Hurricanes in the United States 1851-2004. Retrieved on 2007-06-23.
  5. ^ National Weather Service Office Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Beulah. Retrieved on 2007-06-23.
  6. ^ David M. Roth. Hurricane Beulah Black Background, Color-Filled Image for Puerto Rico. Retrieved on 2008-02-28.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c "Yucatan hard hit; Texas calm, braced for hurricane Beulah". United Press International (The Bulletin). September 18, 1967. p. 1. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Beulah Batters Yucatan, Stalls". United Press International (St. Petersburg Times). September 18, 1967. p. 1. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Mexicans Flee". Associated Press (Spokane Daily Chronicle). September 18, 1967. p. 1. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  11. ^ (Spanish)
  12. ^ a b National Weather Service Office Houston/Galveston, Texas. PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT. Retrieved on 2007-06-23.
  13. ^ Robert Orton. Tornadoes Associated With Hurricane Beulah on September 19-23, 1967. Retrieved on 2007-06-23.
  14. ^ David M. Roth. Hurricane Beulah Rainfall Page. Retrieved on 2007-06-23.
  15. ^ Texas State Historical Association. Hurricane Beulah wracks Texas coast. Retrieved on 2007-06-23.
  16. ^ N. E. Flitters. Hurricane Beulah. A report in retrospect on the hurricane and its effect on biological processes in the Rio Grande Valley. Retrieved on 2007-06-23.
  17. ^ Edward N. Rappaport, Jose Fernandez-Partagas, and Jack Beven. The Deadliest Atlantic Tropical Cyclones, 1492-1996. Retrieved on 2007-06-23.

External links[edit]