45th Anniversary of Hurricane Celia

Hurricane Celia satellite picture at landfall.

Hurricane Celia satellite picture at landfall.

On the evening of August 3, 1970, Hurricane Celia made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas.  Celia had formed from a tropical wave three days before in the Caribbean Sea.  After moving over the western tip of Cuba, the storm turned westward and underwent two cycles of rapid intensification, the last as it neared the Texas coast.  The flooding from rainfall in western Cuba cost five lives, and the waves generated by Celia caused erosion along Gulf Coast beaches as far away as Florida where eight people drowned.  But the major damage was caused by the hurricane’s winds in the Corpus Christi and Port Aransas area.  Winds at landfall were estimated at 125 mph (205 km/hr) with gusts estimated at 175 mph (280 km/hr).  Damage surveys showed most of the heaviest destruction was confined to narrow streaks on the south side of the storm, which rotated to the north side after the eye had passed the city.  Nearly 9000 homes were destroyed and another 45,000 damaged to some degree.  Over 200 business buildings were severely damages and over 300 boats demolished.  Some US$8 million in losses was suffered by agricultural interests, and the overall damage total has recently re-estimated at US$930 million (in 1970 $s). Celia lost strength only slowly as it moved inland, causing significant damage into southwestern Texas.  15 deaths in Texas were directly ascribed to this hurricane.

National Hurricane Research Laboratory scientists’ papers about Hurricane Celia:

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