National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Upper Texas Coast Tropical Cyclones in the 1880s




Season Track Map

HURRICANE (Cat. 2 - June 17th landfall) 
This hurricane struck north of Matagorda Bay. 

TROPICAL STORM (July 5th landfall) 
This tropical storm hit Galveston.


Season Track Map

TROPICAL STORM (June 14th landfall) 
This tropical storm struck near the TX-LA border flooding the coast for several miles inland near Sabine. Galveston experienced winds of 50 mph and a tide to within inches of the high water mark set in 1875. A number of ships were sunk there and the railroad was heavily damaged. The schooner "Edna C." was fishing at the snapper banks and lost with five persons aboard.

HURRICANE (Cat. 2 - August 20th landfall) 
This hurricane destroyed Indianola (Indianola was a prosperous seaport and the seat of Calhoun County, located on a sandpit, between Matagorda Bay and Powderhorn Lake). The storm approached from the southeast during the night of 8/19. At daylight, the wind was blowing at 72 mph and the bay was rising. Refugees had crowded into the signal station where Signal Officer I.A. Reed was making weather observations. The winds increased, water from the bay surged through the streets, and the building began to todder. As others in the office began to leave the building, Reed decided to stay just long enough to set the anemometer register - the delay cost him his life. Signal lamps set fire to Reed's office and spread to more than a block of buildings on both sides of the street, despite the heavy rain and water. The fire burned Reed and an accompanying doctor severly before they drowned. Many people who were forced from burning buildings into the water were swept away. After the storm subsided, not a single house was left undamaged, and very few people were able to save anything at all. Those who survived abandoned the town as fast as possible. It was never rebuilt.

HURRICANE (Cat. 2 - October 12th landfall) 
This hurricane passed over Sabine, TX, flooding the coast for twenty miles inland. Nearly every house in the vicinity was moved from its foundation. One hundred fifty lives were lost. In Galveston, the tide was high despite winds from the north and west. The water was reported to be as high as in the June storm and many residents rode the street car to the beach to watch the waves crash in. Johnsons Bayou, LA was destroyed.


Season Track Map

HURRICANE (Cat. NA - September 20th landfall) 
This hurricane curved along the entire Texas coast before making landfall on the Florida peninsula. In Galveston, storm warnings were hoisted but the wind blew the flag away. This caused some confusion in the city, as citizens noticed that the warnings were no longer posted while the winds continued unabated. The result was that everyone in town who had a telephone called the signal station to see what was going on. Although the winds in Galveston peaked only in the 30 mph range, the combination of wind and high seas proved disasterous for the coal barge Orient which was being towed into port by the steam tug Ranger. While rounding the outer bar, the cable connecting the two boats parted and the barge drifted aground about 7 miles offshore. A rescue attempt failed when the lifeboat sent by the Ranger was swamped and broke up. The five crew members of the Ranger's rescue team eventually washed safely ashore about 10 miles to the west, while four of the five crew members of the Orient drowned. The one surviving crew member of the Orient was reported to have been left "temporarily blind and deaf" by the experience. 

Highest winds at Galveston were clocked at 31 mph with a barometric pressure of 29.85 inches. At Indianola, highest recorded winds were 48 mph. Galveston received over 6 inches of rainfall from the storm which brought their total for the first three weeks of a very rainy September to 21.68 inches, the highest on record for the month to that time.


Season Track Map

HURRICANE (Cat. NA - August 13th landfall) 
Called a "violent hurricane," the storm center crossed central Padre Island. At Murdock's Landing, signals were blown down and a flat boat lost.


Season Track Map

HURRICANE (or TROPICAL STORM - June 24th landfall) 
This hurricane or tropical storm made landfall on the central Texas coast. At Galveston, the 5.2" of rain that fell was the largest total in several years, and the prairies between Galveston and Houston were "fairly aloft." The worst damage in Galveston was minor flooding and a pot hole some four feet deep in the middle of 29th St. and Ave. K.