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Severe Weather in Texas: 1980s

Severe weather in Texas can be categorized by two factors: loss of life and the cost of damage estimating over $1 million. The following events were included because they caused an extensive amount of destruction and in some cases, fatalities were also a result of the severe weather.

Aug. 9–11, 1980: Hurricane Allen hit South Texas and left three dead, causing $650 million to $750 million in property and crop damages. Over 250,000 coastal residents had to be evacuated. The worst damage occurred along Padre Island and in Corpus Christi. Over 20 inches of rain fell in extreme South Texas, and 29 tornadoes occurred; one of the worst hurricane-related outbreaks.

Summer 1980: One of the hottest summers in the history of the Lone Star State.

Sept. 5–8, 1980: Hurricane Danielle brought rain and flooding to Southeast and Central Texas. Seventeen inches of rain fell at Port Arthur, and 25 inches near Junction.

May 24–25, 1981: Severe flooding in Austin claimed 13 lives, injured about 100 and caused $40 million in damage. Up to 5.5 inches of rain fell in one hour west of the city.

Oct. 11–14, 1981: Record rains in North Central Texas caused by the remains of Pacific Hurricane Norma. Over 20 inches fell in some locations.

April 2, 1982: A tornado outbreak in Northeast Texas. The most severe tornado struck Paris; 10 people were killed, 170 injured and 1,000 left homeless. Over $50 million in damages resulted. A total of seven tornadoes that day left 11 dead and 174 injured.

May, 1982: Texas recorded 123 tornadoes, the most ever in May, and one less than the most recorded in any single month in the state. One death and 23 injuries occurred.

December 1982: Heavy snow. El Paso recorded 18.2 inches of snow, the most in any month there.

Aug. 15–21, 1983: Hurricane Alicia was the first hurricane to make landfall in the continental U.S. in three years (Aug. 18), and one of the costliest in Texas history ($3 billion). Alicia caused widespread damage to a large section of Southeast Texas, including coastal areas near Galveston and the entire Houston area. Alicia spawned 22 tornadoes, and highest winds were estimated near 130 mph. In all, 18 people were killed and 1,800 injured as a result of the tropical storm.

Jan. 12–13, 1985: A record-breaking snowstorm struck West and South Central Texas with up to 15 inches of snow that fell at many locations between San Antonio and the Rio Grande. San Antonio recorded 13.2 inches of snow for Jan. 12 (the greatest in a day) and 13.5 inches for the two-day total. Eagle Pass reported 14.5 inches of snow.

June 26, 1986: Hurricane Bonnie made landfall between High Island and Sabine Pass around 3:45 a.m. The highest wind measured in the area was a gust to 97 m.p.h., which was recorded at the Sea Rim State Park. As much as 13 inches of rain fell in Ace in southern Polk County. There were several reports of funnel clouds, but no confirmed tornadoes. While the storm caused no major structural damage, there was widespread minor damage. Numerous injuries were reported.

May 22, 1987: A strong, multiple-vortex tornado struck the town of Saragosa, Reeves County. Of the town’s 183 inhabitants, 30 were killed and 121 were injured. Eight-five percent of the town’s structures were destroyed, while total damage topped $1.3 million.

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