1886 Indianola hurricane
The 1886 Indianola Hurricane was a powerful tropical cyclone that destroyed the town of Indianola, Texas in August 1886, remarkably impacting the history and economic development of Texas. It was the fifth and strongest hurricane of the 1886 Atlantic hurricane season, and one of the most intense hurricanes to ever hit the United States.
|Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)|
|Formed||August 12, 1886|
|Dissipated||August 21, 1886|
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained: 150 mph (240 km/h) |
|Lowest pressure||925 mbar (hPa); 27.32 inHg|
|Damage||$200,000 (1886 USD)|
|Areas affected||Lesser Antilles, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Texas|
|Part of the 1886 Atlantic hurricane season|
A tropical storm developed east of Trinidad and Tobago on August 12, and began moving northwestward. Originally it was thought the storm became a Category 1 hurricane the next day but re-analysis now shows it remained as a tropical storm until August 14. On the evening of August 15 it reached the island of Hispaniola. After crossing the south of that island as a Category 1 hurricane, it struck southeastern Cuba on August 16 as a Category 2 hurricane. The storm briefly weakened over land and entered the Gulf of Mexico near Matanzas on August 18 as a Category 1 storm. As the hurricane crossed the Gulf of Mexico it strengthened further, first to a Category 2 then to a Category 3 cyclone. As it approached the coast of Texas, it intensified to a 150 mph (240 km/h) Category 4 hurricane. At the time, it was tied for the strongest hurricane ever recorded (the first reported, and confirmed, Category 5 hurricane would be in 1924). On August 19, winds increased in Indianola, and, on August 20, it made landfall as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane. Pressure at landfall is estimated to be 925 mbar, which would make it the sixth strongest hurricane known to have hit the United States, and by winds, it is tied for the fifth most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland. The hurricane moved inland and eventually dissipated on August 21 in northeast Texas.
The total death toll was at least 74, including 28 in Cuba.
|Most intense landfalling tropical cyclones in the United States|
Intensity is measured solely by central pressure
|1||"Labor Day"||1935||892 mbar (hPa)|
|2||Camille||1969||900 mbar (hPa)|
|4||Michael||2018||919 mbar (hPa)|
|5||Katrina||2005||920 mbar (hPa)|
|7||Andrew||1992||922 mbar (hPa)|
|8||"Indianola"||1886||925 mbar (hPa)|
|9||"Guam"||1900||926 mbar (hPa)|
|10||"Florida Keys"||1919||927 mbar (hPa)|
|Source: HURDAT, Hurricane |
The storm made landfall on the coast of Texas on August 20, wreaking property destruction in a number of towns, and resulting in a number of deaths.
In Texas, the hurricane obliterated the town of Indianola that was only just recovering from a powerful 1875 hurricane on the same location. At Indianola a storm surge of 15 feet from Matagorda Bay overwhelmed the town. Every building in the town was either destroyed or left uninhabitable. When the Signal Office was blown down, a fire started which took hold and destroyed several neighboring blocks. The fire destroyed all but two of the town's buildings and killed a large number of citizens. The storm also destroyed two and half miles of railroad track, making communication with Indianola very difficult and complicating rescue efforts. This storm caused fewer fatalities however (46 in Indianola, compared to 400 in the 1875 storm), largely because the storm struck during the day and residents had time to take shelter. The hurricane also ended a severe drought in Texas.
The village of Quintana, at the mouth of the Brazos River, was also destroyed. At Houston, the bayou rose between 5–6 feet on August 19. The storm reached Victoria, Texas at about 7 AM, destroying or damaging most of the buildings in the city. An estimated 75 houses were destroyed and another 118 were damaged. The town's jail and high school were both damaged while the freight station, Masonic hall, and certain sections of town were "almost literally swept from the earth." No deaths were reported in the town, but the initial damages were estimated at $100,000 (equivalent to $2.6 million in 2019) and the citizens of the town declared the hurricane "the most terrible storm ever known in Victoria."
In Galveston, Texas, the storm capsized a forty-ton schooner, the Liviona Perkins, killing three crew members. The storm also damaged roads, railways, and houses, leading to an estimated $200,000 in damage (equivalent to $5.2 million in 2019).
Many of Indianola's residents relocated farther inland after the storm. Five weeks later, in September 1886, another hurricane hit the Texas coast between Brownsville and Corpus Christi. Indianola was again flooded by rainwater and storm surge from Matagorda Bay. The remaining residents were evacuated. Following this storm the post office at Indianola was shut down, marking the official abandonment of the town. The old town's ruins sit just offshore under 15 feet of water in Matagorda Bay.
The storm ended the rivalry between Galveston and Indianola as the chief port of Texas. With the abandonment of Indianola and the unwillingness of the former residents to rebuild close to shore, Galveston became the most important Texan port until the catastrophic damage wrought there by the 1900 Galveston hurricane led to the rise of Houston as a major port on the Texan coast.
- Helen B. Frantz. "Indianola Hurricanes, Handbook of Texas Online". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
- Hurricane Research Division (2008). "Documentation of Atlantic Tropical Cyclones Changes in HURDAT". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
- "Atlantic hurricane best track (HURDAT version 2)" (Database). United States National Hurricane Center. May 25, 2020.
- "Continental United States Hurricanes (Detailed Description)". United States Hurricane Research Division. June 2020. Retrieved June 23, 2021.
- David Roth (2010-02-04). "Texas Hurricane History" (PDF). National Weather Service. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
- "Damaged by Flood and Fire: Texas Town in Ruins - Many Lives Supposed to be Lost". The New York Times. August 22, 1886. p. 2.
- Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2020). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved September 22, 2020. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
- Indianola history at Indianola, TX website