Florida 2004: Lessons for East Texas

Last year was a  record year for hurricanes in the state of Florida. Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances, Hurricane Ivan, and Hurricane Jeanne all made direct hits on what most people call the Sunshine State.

High winds, storm surge, and flooding rains  from the four hurricanes created devastation for many of the state's coastal communities, but inland areas were not spared. The first storm to hit Florida, Hurricane Charley, made landfall as an intense category 4 storm with winds over 135 miles per hour. Although the storm did weaken after making landfall, it still produced wind gusts over 90 miles per hour in Orlando, which was 145 miles away from where the storm made landfall. For comparison, that is about the same or less as the distance between the upper Texas coast and most locations in East Texas like Livingston, Woodville, San Augustine, Hemphill, Crockett, Groveton, Center, Lufkin, and Nacogdoches.

Bill Read, the Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service Office in Houston/Galveston spoke with KTRE about the inland dangers posed by hurricanes.  He said, "It may not be as life threatening, but you will want to follow the usual precautions for severe weather. Stay inside away from windows.

Read also pointed out that there are lessons East Texans can learn from last year's hurricanes that devastated Florida.  Read said, "You should maintain enough food and water for three days. Lessons we learned in Flordia in heavily wooded areas, and you guys are defintely a wooded area, is that tt could become a day to day process to restore electricity. You may be without power for three to four days."

If a major hurricane were to hit the upper Texas coast and head north, it is estimated we could experience sustained winds in excess of 75 miles per hour in East Texas.  Flooding rains and tornadoes would also be a threat if a hurricane were to make landfall.