|Category 3 hurricane (SSHS)|
|Hurricane Celia making landfall in Texas|
|Formed||July 31, 1970|
|Dissipated||August 5, 1970|
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained:
125 mph (205 km/h)
|Lowest pressure||945 mbar (hPa); 27.91 inHg|
|Fatalities||27 direct, 1 indirect|
|Damage||$930 million (1970 USD)|
|Areas affected||western Cuba, coastal Florida and Texas|
|Part of the 1970 Atlantic hurricane season|
Hurricane Celia was the costliest tropical cyclone in Texas history until Hurricane Alicia in 1983. The eighth tropical cyclone, third named storm, and second hurricane of the 1970 Atlantic hurricane season, Celia developed in the western Caribbean Sea from a tropical wave on July 31. Initially, the depression tracked north-northwestward without significantly intensify. By the following day, the depression crossed over western Cuba and entered into the Gulf of Mexico soon thereafter. Shortly after emerging into the Gulf of Mexico, the depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Celia. With warm sea surface temperatures, Celia rapidly intensified into a major hurricane on the August 1.
The intensification was temporary and Celia weakened to a minimal hurricane the next morning. As Celia moved towards the Texas coastline, it began to rapidly intensify again. The storm reached its peak as it made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas, as a strong Category Three hurricane late on August 3. The storm caused 15 fatalities in Texas before dissipating inland the next day. Damages in Texas totaled to $930 million, making Celia the costliest disaster in Texas history at the time. To date, Celia is last major hurricane to strike the city of Corpus Christi, Texas, directly.
Meteorological history 
The precursor to Hurricane Celia was a tropical wave that moved off the eastern African coast on July 23. The wave moved quickly at 20 mph (32 km/h) to 25 mph (40 km/h) with no development. The wave entered into the eastern Caribbean Sea on July 28 and began to show signs of development. Pressures over the Southern United States were falling at that time, eroding the subtropical ridge. This allowed the storm to develop a closed circulation and the wave was declared a tropical disturbance on July 29. The disturbance was declared Tropical Depression Three the next day. Tropical Depression Three crossed over western Cuba that night. A reconnaissance flight found that the depression had a pressure of 1007 mbar at the time but they could not finish the mission due to the proximity to Cuba. The storm entered the Gulf of Mexico late on July 31 and began to feed off the warm waters. On the morning of August 1, another reconnaissance flight found winds of tropical storm intensity and the depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Celia.
Satellite loops of Celia showed that the storm was becoming more organized throughout the day. A reconnaissance mission in the afternoon confirmed the intensification, and Celia was upgraded to a major hurricane with winds of 115 mph (185 km/h) and a pressure of 965 mbar (hPa; 28.49 inHg). The rapid intensification was brief and Celia weakened to a category one the next morning. The storm moved in a steady west north-west motion since it entered the gulf, and several reconnaissance missions flew into the storm to provide forecasters with valuable data. The forecast errors at that time were some of the lowest in several years; they were 38.4 mi (61.8 km) and 64 mi (103 km) for 12 and 24 hours, respectively compared to the long term mean of over 100 mi (160 km). As Celia neared the Texas coastline, another round of rapid deepening occurred. The pressure dropped 39 mbar in 15 hours and the winds increased to 125 mph (201 km/h), just short of category four status.
The intensification was unexpected as conditions were not in favor of rapid development. After moving inland, Celia maintained tropical storm intensity for 30 hours before dissipating over western Texas on August 5. The slow dissipation was unusual since Celia was a relatively small storm, and such storms usually break apart after shortly landfall. Celia was an unusual hurricane in that most of the damage was caused by sudden and severe wind gusts on the left side of the storm. Sustained winds were never higher than 120 mph (190 km/h) to 130 mph (210 km/h) but gusts locally reached 160 mph (260 km/h) or more. The gusts were in streaks and only lasted for 15 minutes.
Celia caused 27 fatalities, four in Cuba, eight in Florida and 15 in Texas and left $930 million in damages. Corpus Christi, Texas suffered the worst damage with at least 80% of all the structures in the city damaged and half of those damaged were severely damaged or destroyed.
Cuba and Florida 
As a tropical depression, Celia dropped heavy rains over western Cuba, resulting in major flooding. Four people drowned and another man was electrocuted in the water when he tried to retrieve a downed power line. While over the central Gulf of Mexico, strong rip currents and large swells affected Florida, measuring up to 10 feet (3.0 m) in the Panhandle. In Escambia County alone, at least 12 lifeguard rescues occurred. Pensacola Beach was closed to the public on September 3, after several rescues on the previous day. Eight people drowned due to adverse water conditions in the Florida Panhandle.
The most severe damage was in Corpus Christi and Aransas Pass, Texas. Throughout the state, 8,950 homes were destroyed and damaged about 55,650 others. About 252 small businesses, 331 boats, and 310 farm buildings were either damaged or destroyed. Initially, losses were estimated to have reached $434 million. However, due to lower insurance rate of coverage, the original insured losses, $310 million, were tripled, rather than doubled. Thus, the damage toll was revised upward to $930 million in 2011. Damage to crops was slightly more than $8.8 million. In addition, Celia caused 15 fatalities and injured 466 others. The most severe damage occurred in the streaks of damage, not by tornadoes, but a series microbursts and downbursts, most of which occurred in a 15 minute span. Survivors of the storm described the downbursts as suddenly "rocket shells" exploding. However, areas between the streaks suffered surprisingly little damage, mainly ornamental due to debris from the homes nearby. Celia dropped heavy rains as it made landfall. However, due to the small size and fast movement of the storm, precipitation was not widespread. At the time of landfall, much of Texas was suffering from a drought. Most areas received 3 to 4 in (76 to 100 mm).
In Alvin, a small tornado caused the destruction of a few fences and moved a pickup truck. Downed trees caused slight property damage in Amistad Dam, a municipality in Val Verde County. Gusts between 170 and 180 mph (270 and 290 km/h) were reported within the Aransas County portion of Aransas Pass. In Artesia Wells, minimal damage occurred to property, reaching only $5,000. The storm damage some homes and 15% of crops in Austwell. Losses in that section of the city reached an estimated $20 million. Minor damage was inflicted on weak structures and shingle or metal roofs in Crystal City. Impact on trees and crops were minimal. Thus, the reported wind speeds of 85–90 mph (137–140 km/h) were considered "doubtful".
Property damage in Del Rio was about $1 million. In Frio County, a tornado spawned in the Dilley area toppled utility poles, destroyed several chicken houses, and blew the roof of a house 600 to 900 feet (180 to 270 m) away. In addition, two farm houses were deroofed and several outhouses were damaged. Another tornado spawned nearby caused "considerable" damage to the Dilley Civic Center, destroyed machine sheds, unroofed outbuildings, and felled many electrical poles. Throughout Dilley, there was $250,000 in property damage and $350,000 in crop losses. An estimated $50,000 was inflected to property in Eagle Pass. Strong winds in George West caused damage to 90% of trees, some houses, and cotton crops. Damage estimates in the city range from $250,000-$500,000. In Gregory, property losses was about $1 million, while there was about $25,000 in damage to crops. Near Lake Corpus Christi, a man died after he was struck by debris from his house, which was hit by a tornado. Two other people were injured by that tornado and several homes were destroyed. The storm spawned at least 2 other tornadoes, those neither caused any known damage.
Damage in Langtry was very minor, reaching only $600. A tornado in Port O'Connor, destroyed a 30 by 230 feet (9.1 by 70 m) boat storage shed, which was owned by Cooperative Weather Observed Bill H. Young. In Refugio, a rancher observed wind gusts up to 142 mph (229 km/h). About $707,500 in damage occurred to property, while crop losses reached $425,000. One injury was reported after a person was struck by flying glass. Wind gusts up to 160 mph (260 km/h) in Sandia damaged every house, 90% of cotton crops, and caused 1 fatality. Although wind gusts of 168 mph (270 km/h) were observed in Taft, only $5 million in property and $500,000 in crop damages were reported. In Tilden, the storm brought maximum sustained winds up to 100 mph (160 km/h). As a result, the entire city lost telephone and electrical services and there was "lots of damage" to trees, 80% of houses, and roofs. Property damage reached about $3.4 million, while there was also $25,000 in crop losses. Property losses in Uvalde reached $100,000, while damage to crops was estimated at $250,000. Additionally, a tornado was spawned in Yoakum, though it apparently caused negligible impact.
Nueces County 
The highest tides produced by the storm lashed Nueces County. Tides were 9.2 feet (2.8 m) and 9 feet (2.7 m) mean sea level at Port Aransas Beach and the Port Aransas Jetty, respectively. The heaviest rainfall totals observed from the storm also fell in Nueces County, with 7.26 inches (184 mm) of precipitation reported in Robstown. Because rainfall was relatively light, minor, if any flood damage occurred. Strong winds were reported, with winds gusts measured as high as 161 mph (259 km/h) and 180 mph (290 km/h) at the Corpus Christi Weather Bureau Office and Aransas Pass. Further inland, wind gusts were estimated to have reached 180 mph (290 km/h) at Robstown High School, as the oil derricks on the property, built to withstand with of 175 mph (282 km/h), were knocked down.
Due to high winds, 85% of the total property damage caused by the storm occurred in Corpus Christi, with 90% of the buildings in downtown either damaged or destroyed. About a third of the houses in the city had serious damage or were destroyed. The University of Corpus Christi, a private institution located on Ward Island, suffered so much damage that it could not afford to rebuild, and was sold to the State in 1973. Just northeast of the Corpus Christi International Airport, several hundreds of mobile homes were ripped into small fragments, and the remains were scattered for hundreds of yards. Facilities owned by the Southwestern Bell Corporation (which later became AT&T) suffered $10 million in losses. Another telephone company in the area, General Telephone Company, estimated $700,000 in damage occurred to its business. At the United States Army helicopter repair center in Corpus Christi, there was about $5 million in damage. Around 800–900 family housing units at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi were considered uninhabitable, indicating $35 million in losses at that location.
Two large Sunoco oil tanks and another owned by Humble Oil burned after possibly being struck by lightning. Approximately $17 million in losses occurred to both companies. Heavy property damage was also reported in rural areas, totaling to slightly more than $20 million. At least 75% of buildings in Port Aransas were damaged. Overall, 74% of property losses associated with Celia was in Nueces County.
While crossing the Gulf of Mexico, Celia produced tides 1 to 2 feet (0.30 to 0.61 m) above normal on the southwestern coast of Louisiana. As a result, slight erosion of Louisiana Highway 82 occurred in Cameron Parish between Johnson Bayou and Holly Beach. No damage or fatalities were reported in that state. After dissipating, the remnants of Celia produced up to 2 inches (51 mm) of rain in New Mexico, though no other impacts in the state are known.
Following the storm, then-President of the United States Richard Nixon declared eleven counties in Texas as disaster areas, allowing affected residents to be eligible for federal relief. In addition, most homeowners insurance policies refused to write insurance for areas considered to be "high risk" along the Texas coast, prompting the state government to form the Texas Catastrophe Property Insurance Association, now known as the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. Today, TWIA offers coverage to the 14 coastal counties of Texas and a small portion of Harris County near Houston, Texas.
Due to the severity of damage caused by the hurricane, the World Meteorological Organization retired the name Celia the following year. The name was then replaced by Carmen which was retired upon its first use in 1974.
See also 
- NHC (1970). "Celia Preliminary Report One". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- NHC (1970). "Celia Preliminary Report Two". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- NHC (1970). "Celia Preliminary Report Three". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- NHC (1970). "Celia Preliminary Report Four". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- NHC (1970). "Celia Preliminary Report Four". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- Staff Writer (1970-08). "Celia's Winds Gain Power As Storm Heads for Texas". National Hurricane Center.
- "The deadliest, costliest and most intense United States tropical cyclones from 1851 to 2010 (and other frequently requested hurricane facts)". National Climatic Data Center, National Hurricane Center. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2011-08-10. p. 47. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- "Storm Data - August 1970". National Climatic Data Center. 1970. p. 119. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
- "Preliminary Report Celia". National Hurricane Center (Miami, Florida: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration): 8. 1970. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/atlantic/atl1970-prelim/celia/prelim08.gif. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- "Preliminary Report Celia". National Hurricane Center (Miami, Florida: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration): 9. 1970. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/atlantic/atl1970-prelim/celia/prelim09.gif. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- "Hurricane Report (Amistad, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center. Del Rio, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 1970-08-05. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- Robert H. Herndon (1970-08-13). "Hurricane Report (Aransas Pass, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (Aransas Pass, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-arp.01.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- Maurice Adams (1970-08-05). "Hurricane Report (Artesia Wells, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (Artestia Well, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-art.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- Bruno E. Bluhm (1970-08-07). "Hurricane Report (Austwell, Texas)" (PDF). National Hurricane Center (Austwell, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-aus.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- John B. Holdsworth (1970-08-15). "Hurricane Report (Crystal City, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (Crystal City, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-crc.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- Shreves C. Goodwin (1970-08-05). "Hurricane Report (Del Rio, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (Del Rio, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-del.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- Kathryn S. Dewoody (1970-08-06). "Hurricane Report (Dilley, Texas)". National Hurricane Center. Dilly, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- Alonzo Garcia (1970-08-08). "Hurricane Report (Eagle Pass, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (Eagle Pass, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-egl.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- Brooks M. Schley (1970-08-05). "Hurricane Report (George West, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (George West, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-gew.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- (JPG) Hurricane Report (Gregory, Texas) (Report). Gregory, Texas: National Hurricane Center. 1970-08-10. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-grg.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- Jack R. Skiles (1970-08-07). "Hurricane Report (Langtry, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (Langtry, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-lan.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- Thomas J. Jeter (1970-08-11). "Hurricane Report (Refugio, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (Refugio, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-ref.a.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- "Hurricane Report (Sandia, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (Sandia, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). 1970-08-14. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-san.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- "Hurricane Report (Taft, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (Taft, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). 1970-08-10. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-tft.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- "Hurricane Report (Tilden, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (Tilden, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). 1970-08-07. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-til.a.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- Jack Carper (1970-08-05). "Hurricane Report (Uvalde, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (Uvalde, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-uva.jpg. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- Paul Brier (1970-08-06). "Hurricane Report (Yoakum, Texas)" (JPG). National Hurricane Center (Yoakum, Texas: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/preloc/phs-yok.jpg. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- "Preliminary Report Celia". National Hurricane Center (Miami, Florida: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration): 6. 1970. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/atlantic/atl1970-prelim/celia/prelim06.gif. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- George W. Cry (1970-08-10). "Hurricane Celia, Louisiana" (JPG). Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: National Hurricane Center). http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/correspondence/augcry.jpg. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
- (JPG) Celia's Later Life (Report). Miami, Florida: National Hurricane Center. 1970. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_wallets/cdmp/dvd0033-jpg/1970/atlantic/celia/postevent/celialaterlife.jpg. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- "About TWIA". Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
- World Meteorological Organization (2009). "Retired Hurricane Names". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
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