August 11, 2009

Late-Blooming Tropical Season of the Past

A tropical wave that just emerged from the African coast is being watched for potential development. If a tropical depression does form, it would end the recent stretch of quiet weather that has existed across the Atlantic Basin for several weeks.

The hurricane season of 1980 was another that got off to a late start. The season's first tropical storm was not named until Aug. 2. Eight days later, the storm slammed into South Texas. Hurricane Allen was the storm, and Monday was the anniversary of its fierce landfall.

Hurricane Allen slammed into South Texas on Aug. 10, 1980. Allen was a Category 3 hurricane as it moved inland near Port Mansfield. Winds gusted to 138 mph at Port Mansfield, where the storm surge rose to 12 feet. Ninety percent of the buildings at Port Mansfield suffered major damage.

Allen also unleashed torrential rain across South Texas. Kingsville topped the storm's rainfall totals list with 20.20 inches. Corpus Christi set a daily rainfall record on both the 9th and the 10th. More than 6 inches of rain fell each day.

Allen was significantly stronger before reaching South Texas. Allen's strength reached Category 5 status for the third time on the morning of the 9th. The second time Allen was a Category 5 hurricane, on the 7th, its maximum-sustained winds were 190 mph.

The storm weakened to a tropical storm during the evening of the 10th, then dissipated over northern Mexico on the 11th. The death toll from Allen was seven in Texas and 17 in Louisiana. The name Allen was retired after the 1980 hurricane season.

Story by Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski

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