Module2-Galveston Hurricane Cycle A (Team)

EDTC 6341.63
Team 13th Floor
Dara K. Cepeda
Cesar Mata
Cristina Pintor
Rene Rodriguez

PBL Model: Galveston Hurricane Cycle A (Team)


·         Scenario:

Galveston, Texas, was on the rise in 1900. A major seaport for shipping cotton, it was in a race with Houston for prominence on the Texan coast. Sixteen foreign country consulates and millionaires' mansions graced the city of 37,000 people. Galveston was totally unprepared for what was about to happen. Many thought it nearly impossible for a hurricane to threaten the city. In late August and early September a tropical storm tracked across the Caribbean Sea and passed between Cuba and Florida. Many believed the storm would turn to the northeast as it passed the Florida Straits north of Cuba. This was a commonly accepted notion of how tropical cyclones were supposed to behave. It was unheard of for them to continue to the west.

But this storm, after strengthening into a hurricane just past Florida, would continue northwest on a path directly toward Galveston. The hurricane pushed a wall of water over 15 feet deep onto the island that, at its highest point, was only 8.7 feet above sea level. The wind whipped through Galveston at what was later estimated to be Category 4 speeds (131-155 mph). A 150 mph gust would have a pressure of 100 pounds per square foot. The lowest barometric pressure recorded during the storm was 28.44 inches. (NOAA later estimated that the pressure near the storm's eye was probably closer to 27.49 inches.)


On Sept. 9, Galveston lay in desolation. More than 6,000 people lost their lives to what remains the deadliest hurricane to ever hit the United States (some estimates range as high as 12,000 deaths). In addition to the thousands dead, the storm left millions of dollars of destruction in its wake. After making landfall at Galveston, the storm tracked north through Texas and then into Oklahoma and Kansas. The remnants of the storm made it northeastward across the Great Lakes and into Canada before passing north of Halifax on Sept. 12 and disappearing into the North Atlantic.


In addition to the loss of life and property, Galveston lost its allure as shipping firms moved their businesses to Houston. Galveston is now protected by a huge levee system to guard against future storms. Also, after the disaster, a six-mile long sea wall was erected and has since been extended and the island was raised by pumping sand from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. All buildings and roads were also constructed with elevated foundations in the city. When the Galveston Hurricane of 1915 hit, the city was much better prepared.


Your group has been called upon to conduct an Earth system analysis of the 1900 Galveston Hurricane as a case study in how to prepare for this increasingly dangerous threat from Mother Nature.

4. List what is unknown.

5. List what needs to be done:

The survivors of this hurricane had to dispose of the thousands of bodies. High temperatures after the storm caused the piles of bodies to begin to swell and blacken, and the threat of disease was serious. Finally, the corpses were weighed, loaded onto barges and taken offshore to be dumped. After a few days, 2,300 had been disposed of in this manner, but most of them washed back ashore on the next tide. In desperation shallow trenches were dug, lined with wood, and the bodies of animals, humans and debris were burned together. The smoke from the funeral pyres burned for WEEKS over Galveston.


The storm tides of 8–15 feet (2.5–4.5 metres) and winds at more than 130 miles (210 km) per hour were too much for the low-lying city.



The citizens of Galveston did rebuild in the wake of this great hurricane (1900), and in doing so, have been recognized in achieving a remarkable feat of civil engineering: the grade of the entire city was raised and a seawall was built to protect it. Within a decade, 500 city blocks had been raised by 0.3-3.3 m (1-11 ft) with sand dredged from Galveston’s ship channel. During the same period, a seawall spanning nearly 50 blocks was constructed, providing protection for the heart of Galveston. The seawall was tested in 1915 when a Category 3 hurricane battered the Texas coast with 193.2 km/h (120 mph) winds and a 4.9 m (16 ft) storm surge. Although the city sustained serious flooding and the wall was damaged, a repeat of the 1900 devastation was avoided.



While 275 people died throughout the state of Texas as a direct result of the hurricane, unlike the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, only 11 people were killed in the Galveston town area, due to the Galveston Seawall, built after the 1900 storm.



The 1915 Hurricane took a path similar to the1900 Galveston Hurricane, but it affected a large area as it brought strong winds and heavy rains to theLeeward Islands,Puerto Rico,Hispaniola andCuba. When the hurricane made landfall inGalveston, it brought heavy rains and strong winds, leaving $921 million (2005USD) in damage. However, unlike the1900 Galveston Hurricane, only 11 people were killed in the Galveston town area, due to theGalveston Seawall, built after the 1900 storm.

$50 million dollars (1915USD, $921 million 2005USD) in damage.


The hurricane occurred before the practice of assigning official code names to tropical storms was instituted, and thus it is commonly referred to under a variety of descriptive names. Typical names for the storm include the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the Great Galveston Hurricane, and, especially in older documents, the Galveston Flood. It is often referred to by Galveston locals as The Great Storm or The 1900 Storm.



“They need to have a personal and family emergency plan and they need to start early instead of waiting till a hurricane is a day and a half away” said George Garrett, Weslaco Emergency Management Director.

He said when it comes to hurricanes, the Rio Grande Valley is not prepared.

"Our hurricanes in the last two years have come very early, both Alex and Dolly hit us in June, so we're talking just a couple of weeks before we could be threatened by a hurricane" said Garrett.

Garrett said residents need to make sure they have plenty of water stored for at least seven days, as well as plenty of can foods and a first aid kit.

He also adds that you should make sure you car is full of gas all the time during hurricane season.

"You want to make sure you have gas at all times,” Garrett said.

Inland flooding is also a major concern.

That is why over the past four years, Garrett in a joint effort with the county and cities, have been working to clean storm drainage and ditches.

"If the county and joining community’s ditches are full or clogged up with debris, then no matter what we do to clean our ditches, the water is still not going to flow” said Garrett



But how sophisticated was the hurricane warning system in 1900? Turns out it was much more sophisticated - and reliable - in Cuba (where nearly everyone had experienced at least one major hurricane) than it was in America. Since the 1870s, the island had one of the besthurricane tracking systems around. (Follow the link to create an animated hurricane.)

Eyewitnesses who observed storms throughout the West Indies telegraphed each other with personal observations. FatherBenito Vines, a Spanish Jesuit priest who was meteorological director of the Royal College of Belen in Havana, had organized the tracking system. He was famous for his ability to interpret eyewitness data. His hurricane predictions saved many lives. People called him "Father Hurricane."

When Father Benito died in the summer of 1893, he left behind a staff of well-trained hurricane-predicting pioneers. Father Lorenzo Gangoite became head of the Belen Observatory. Although the Cubans had much to offer the new U.S. Weather Bureau (which was less than 10 years old in 1900), people in the Bureau disagreed. They refused to accept that Cubans could accurately predict hurricanes - let alone do it better than the Bureau could.

Today some historians believe such arrogance was a contributing factor to the magnitude of the Galveston disaster



The Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, but, most hurricanes occur from around the middle of August through the middle of October  



In the 20th century, 158 hurricanes made landfall in the U.S. Sixty-four of those were considered major hurricanes that were category 3-5. Florida had the most landfalls with 57 and Texas came in at 2nd place with 36 hurricanes to make landfall.



    Meteorologist use special aircraft called “Hurricane Hunters” to gather data about hurricanes and make predictions. There are two main types of aircraft that can fulfill this purpose. One of those planes is a Lockheed WP-3D Orion (P-3), and the other is a Gulfstream IV SP (G-IV) jet. The newest jet is the Gulfstream IV SP (G-IV) which first went into service in 1997. The G-IV typically flies at an altitude of 45,000 ft and collects data about weather systems in the upper atmosphere. This data is used in computer models that help forecasters make predictions about hurricanes.



A levee is a type of dam that runs along the banks of a river or canal. Levees reinforce the banks and help prevent flooding. By confining the flow, levees can also increase the speed of the water.

Levees can be natural or man-made. A natural levee is formed when sediment settles on the river bank, raising the level of the land around the river. Levees protect the land in many parts of the world. In Europe, levees prevent flooding along the Po, Vistula, and Danube rivers. In the United States, you will find important levee systems along the Mississippi and Sacramento Rivers. In New Orleans, the systematic construction of levees began in the 19th century. The current levee system dates to the 1960s. TheUS Army Corps of Engineers designed the levees to withstand the forces of a fast-blowing "Category 3" storm. Work on the levees was not completed; they weren't strong enough to survive the "Category 4" Hurricane Katrina. In August 2005, several levees along waterways of Lake Ponchartrain failed. Water covered 80% of New Orleans.

In California, an aging levee system is used in Sacramento and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Poor maintenance of theSacramento levees have made the area prone to flooding.

Global warming has brought stronger storms and greater risks of flooding. Engineers are seeking alternatives to levees for flood control. The answer may lie inmodern flood control technologies used in England, Europe, and Japan.




Flood-control dams, dikes, levees, and canals can be built to help prevent flooding. Dams are constructed across river to control water flow. Dikes and levees are built alongside rivers to prevent overflowing. Canals can be used to drain off excess water. Local governments can also prevent people from building in high flood risk areas to prevent flood damage.



For Potential hurricane conditions, having lived thru three of the largest ever to landfall in the U.S., one needs a small generator but the bigger the better, lots of non-perishable quick-fix food stuffs, lots of potable water, all the extra gasoline as possible, heavy duty first-aid kits, flashlights, candles, a place to cook outdoors. A generator will keep small appliances running for ice, refrig., etc and emergency lighting. If in the path of the storm or near to it, light tarps, the bigger the better for roof damage, light sheets of plywood to fix of the windows(before the storm hits) and for afterward for any damaged windows. An outdoor cooking system is nearly a necessity, such as a butane cooking setup. Chainsaws, axes/hatchets, matches, raingear are very necessary.


6. Develop a problem statement:

Team 13th floor will review and analyze data about the 1900 Galveston Hurricane; the team will research on Hurricane Preparedness to inform ourselves in what actions to take for future hurricanes.