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Tropical Storm Elena
Tropical Storm (SSHWS/NWS)
Tropical Storm Elena of 1979.JPG
Tropical Storm Elena just before landfall
Formed August 29, 1979
Dissipated September 2, 1979
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 45 mph (75 km/h)
Lowest pressure 1004 mbar (hPa); 29.65 inHg
Fatalities 2 direct
Damage $10 million (1979 USD)
Areas affected Texas
Part of the 1979 Atlantic hurricane season

Tropical Storm Elena was the 5 named tropical storm of the 1979 Atlantic hurricane season. Forming on August 29 in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico from a tropical wave, Elena moved northwest eventually making landfall on the Texas coast near Matagorda Bay on September 1. Elena was a short-lived storm, reaching a peak intensity with winds at 40mph (100 km/h) on August 2, while positioned north of St. Martin. The storm weakened rapidly and within 24hrs, the system could not be identified even as a tropical depression.

Storm History[edit]

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

The tropical wave from which Elena developed was relatively weak when it passed over Florida on 27 August. After that the wave amplified slowly and by the morning of 29 August, ship and data buoy reports and satellite photographs suggested that a low level circulation was forming. An Air Force reconnaissance flight confirmed the existence of a tropical depression in the central Gulf of Mexico at 2308 GMT OD the 29th. Slow development ensued as the depression moved generally west northwestWard about 10 kt, and by early afternoon on 30 August minimal tropical storm strength was attained. Elena continued toward the west northwest without intensification but turned gradually toward the north as tbe center reached the Texas coast near Matagorda on the" morning of 1 September. Barely of tropical storm strength when it made landfall, Elena could no longer be identified even as a tropical depression by the morning of 2 September. The steering of Elena was controlled by a high pressure area located over the Southern United States. Pressure falls ahead of an approaching frontal trough began to erode the high by 31 August allowing the storm to turn toward the north as it neared the Texas coast.

The flow at 200 mb was anticyclonically curved throughout Elenas exist­ence, but generally from a nortHerly direction. When the depression formed on 29 August, the 200 mb anticyclone was centered over extreme south Texas, and by 1 September when the storm made landfall it had moved westward to Baja, California. Although tropical storms sometimes develop under this type of upper flow, it is not usually conducive to continued strengthening.

Gale warnings were issued from Port o' Connor, Texas to Morgan City, Louisiana in the first tropical storm advisory, and remained in effect until the center moved inland on the aft.ernoon of 1 September. The highest wind reported on shore vas a gust t.o 40 kt at Galveston OD the evening of 1 September Same heavy rains fell along the Texas coast on 1 September, including 4.6 inches in downtown Houston, 3 inches in Beaumont, and over and inch a Victoria. Highest tides repprted were just over three feet MSL at Calveston, Texas City, and Bay town. There have been no reports of damages or casualties associated with Elena.

Elena was named a tropical storm at the same time as Frederic. Ship, buoy and satellite data indicated a depression was forming from a weak tropical wave in the central Gulf of Mexico on the morning of 29 August. This was confirmed later in the day by an Air Force reconnaissance plane. Minimal tropical storm strength of 35 kt winds was reached the fol­lowing afternoon; as the system moved west-north­west at 10 kt. Because the forecast was for the storm to reach the Texas coast in 24 h, gale warnings were issued at 2200 GMT on the 30th from Port O'Connor, Texas to Morgan City, Louisiana. No further strengthening took place before landfall, however, as Elena remained under anticyclonically curved northerly floW at 200 mb throughout its existence. While this weather pattern sometimes allows initial development of a tropical storm, convection is usually stifled, and significant strengthening occurs only if this flow pattern changes. Elena dissipated rather rapidly after moving in­land near Matagorda, Texas, on the morning of 1 September, and could no longer be identified even as a tropical depression 24 h later.

The maximum sustained winds associated with Elena were 35 kt, and the minimum pressure of 1004 mb occurred during the evening of 30 'August. The highest wind on land was a 40 kt gust at Gal­veston~ Texas, on the evening of 1 September.



See Also[edit]