30 Years Ago, Alicia Was Bad, But Ike Was Still Worse

Hurricane Alicia from NOAA
It was 30 years ago this week that Hurricane Alicia took a bite out of the Houston-Galveston area. It was a costly storm that claimed 21 lives and caused several billion dollars in damage.

"Alicia is drifting very slowly, less than 10 mph in a westerly direction."
 
Local forecasters were surprised when Alicia popped-up in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall just a couple of days later near Galveston on August 18th, 1983.

Chris Hebert was a young forecaster at the time with Houston based-impact Weather. 

"It formed off the Louisiana coast on August 15th and it moved inland just two-and-a-half days later, so there wasn't a lot of warning. Rainfall amounts across Houston were in the 8-10 inch rain, so it wasn't a very, very heavy amount of rain as we typically see with tropical cyclones. Alicia just caused a lot of damage. We hadn't had a storm produce even that kind of wind in probably 20 years across the Houston area."

Hebert says Hurricane Ike in 2008 was a much more severe storm than Alicia in many different ways, including wind speed and subsequent flooding. But he says, like Ike, Alicia came right through Houston. 

"It crossed just outside of Loop 610 on the southwest side. It passed through the Westbury, Bellaire and Meyerland areas. It was producing about 50-60 mph winds around the center at that time."

Alicia caused extensive flooding and damage in Galveston.

Thousands of windows in downtown Houston buildings were shattered by flying rocks that were used as ballast on roofs at the time.