Galveston Hurricane of 1900 Cycle a-teacher as a Problem Solver

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Lupita Sanchez SID 0098200

EDTC 6341.62

ESSEA Dust Bowl – Cycle A

Galveston Hurricane of 1900

Cycle A-Teacher as a Problem Solver

dust storm.jpg

Galveston Hurricane Damage.

Photo Courtesy of NOAA/US Dept of Commerce


Hurricanes Dean and Felix both made landfall in Central America in 2007. It was the first time since record keeping began in the late 1800s that two Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes made landfall in the same year. Also, on the same day Felix came ashore, Hurricane Henriette made landfall across the southern tip of Baja California. This marked the first time Atlantic and Pacific hurricanes made landfall on the same day, according to National Hurricane Center records that date back to 1949?

Are hurricanes increasing in intensity and frequency?

A look at the past tells us that intense hurricanes have plagued humans for some time. Even Columbus' fourth voyage in 1502 was marred by a colossal hurricane - one that sunk 20 treasure ships and killed 500 sailors in a nearby Spanish fleet. Was Katrina in 2005 the most devastating hurricane to hit North America in recent history? One might consider the Great Galveston Hurricane at the beginning of the 20th century as a contender.c:\users\gts.k12ad\appdata\local\microsoft\windows\temporary internet files\content.ie5\6b9av7er\mp900401427[1].jpg

Atlantic Ocean Hurricanes, Microsoft Clipart
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 seawall was erected and has since been extended. Pumping sand from the ocean floor of the Gulf of Mexico raised the island. 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.

Now that Hurricane Katrina has once again awakened us to the threat of extra strong hurricanes, 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.

  1. Read and analyze the scenario and situation

Taking a glance of past hurricanes allows us to learn how hurricanes have plagued humans for some time. National Hurricane Centers began recording back in 1949. One of the devastating hurricanes recorded was the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900.

In 1900, Galveston was one of the major seaport cities in competition with Houston in growing in the seaport shipping. However, on September 9 everything would change for the city and all of Galveston citizen’s. A Category 4 hurricane made landfall claiming 6,000 lives and left what remained as the deadliest hurricane to ever hit the United States. In addition, to the numerous lives lost the storm left millions of dollars of devastation. 1900hurr-2.jpg

With such devastation among Galveston, its citizens learned how to protect and become better prepared by creating a levee system to guard the city from future hurricanes. A seawall was brought upright; the island was raised by pumping sand from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.

E>S (Event > Sphere)


Storm surges destroys vegetation, rainfall causes loss of life due to flooding and drowning; and may pollute drinking water resources. Strong winds project objects into the air possibly harming humans.



Storm surge inundates low lying areas of the coastal areas combined with wind it erodes beaches and embankments.


The wind up roots trees which produces oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, lack of trees tend to decrease oxygen production and an increase of carbon dioxide in the affected areas.


Flooding from rain creates hazardous wastes, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals to contaminate water sources.

S>E (Sphere > Event)

L > E

As a hurricane reaches land it encounters friction and lack of fuel (warm water) and the hurricane starts to die down.hurricane2.png

A > E

Warm air raises causing clusters of clouds and thunderstorms called tropical disturbances. Which leads to formation of hurricanes?

H > E

Hurricanes develop in warm tropical waters of at least 80 degrees. Warm water is fuel for hurricanes.

S > S (Sphere > Sphere)

A> B

Winds from hurricanes can up root trees, damage vegetations and habitats for humans and other animals.



Hurricane winds erode beaches and embankments.


Hurricanes create storm surges due the wind pushing against water sources

L > A

The lithosphere does not contain warm water that servers as fuel for hurricanes so the hurricanes die down.

L > B

Flooding kills vegetation that grows on the lithosphere and animals which feed on the vegetation which can diminish the food supply to humans and other animals.


Hurricanes create storm surges which create flooding killing humans, animals and vegetation.

List your personal understanding, ideas, or hunches

My personal understanding of hurricanes, are hurricanes are a major natural disaster which cause devastation to properties, vegetation, and people. I know how strong hurricane storm winds can become. Living in the Lower Grande Valley we get hurricane storms and strong winds. We have a hurricane season, which last from 6 to 7 months; where we begin preparing in the summer until the end of October.

List what is known.

  • Hurricanes first record was in the late 1800s

  • 6,000 people lost their lives

  • Millions of dollars in damaged properties

  • Great Galveston hurricane what one of the deadliest hurricane to hit the US

  • A six-mile long seawall was erected and the island was raised.

  • The people of Galveston were better prepared in 1915

  • How devastating was Hurricane Katrina

List what is unknown

  • How well are people preparing for hurricanes?

  • Are their evacuation plan in effect for each state, and city?

  • Are all hurricanes becoming stronger each year?

  • Did people listen to the warning signs?

  • Beside a seawall, and raising the island higher, what other method can be made to prepare another hurricane impact?

  • How strong have hurricanes increase since the 1900 Galveston Hurricane?

  • How much is being done to educated people of hurricanes?

List what needs to be done

More research must be done in order to prevent hurricane disasters, such as property and lives.

Research online database to gather information on past hurricanes and current hurricanes, contribute questions with team.

Develop a problem statement

Hurricanes are one of Mother Nature’s catastrophe disasters. Hurricanes create devastation where it makes landfall. With today’s technology we are able to prevent and educate people to become better prepared for hurricanes.

Gather information

All information used was prior knowledge, resources made available through the ESSEA resource section. Other web site were research as well, I will exchange my information and facts with my team in order to generate a Team problem.

Present findings

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