Tropical Storm and Hurricane Data

Hurricane Bret (1999)
Tropical Storm Charley (1998)
Tropical Storm Frances (1998)
Tropical Storm Josephine(1996)



Hurricane Bret (1999)


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Hurricane Bret raised tides at Port Aransas to less than a foot above normal high tide levels. The storm surge lasted for only 30 hours, after which the tides returned to normal. Unlike other recent tropical storms (see Josephine, Charley, Frances,), Bret did not cause dune erosion on Mustang and San Jose Islands. Wave runup did bring the water up to the dune line but not beyond. In places where mid-beach vegetation had taken hold during the

summer (mostly on San Jose Island), some plants were killed by the salt water  encroachment but coppice dunes held the storm surge from reaching the dunes.  Wind gusts at the UTMSI Pier Laboratory reached 60mph. What was unusual about Bret was the rain it dumped on Port Aransas. The official rainfall was 14.5 inches. This is more than any single rain event (or even any single month's rainfall) since at least 1978. Our total year's rainfall is now over 38 inches, five inches above our mean annual rainfall.

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Tropical Storm Charley (1998)


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Tropical Storm Charley differed from Frances in that there was little buildup of the water level in the days preceding its landfall. The center of circulation of the storm passed over Port Aransas, but residents barely noticed it. The maximum tide was just over 2ft above Mean Sea Level (MSL) and occured during landfall on the morning of August 23 1998. Water levels dropped rapidly after Charley's passage. Charley eroded some of the dunes
on Mustang & San Jose Islands but not to the extent that Frances did later in September.  Coppice dunes were forming in the dry sand area at the toe of the main dunes, anchored by runners of the Goat's Foot Morning Glory. These were eliminated by Charley, allowing vehicles to drive along the beach adjacent to the dunes after the storm. Prior to Charley, dry sand prevented vehicles from driving there and vegetation started to take hold.

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Tropical Storm Frances (1998)


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Tropical Storm Frances generated high tides until it went ashore in Louisiana on September 11 1998. In the graph you can see the buildup of the storm-generated "tide" with the regular astronomical tides superimposed on the rising water level. The tide gage is located at our Pier Laboratory off the south jetty of the Aransas Pass leading to the Gulf of Mexico from Corpus Christi Bay. The peak high water was 3 ft 9 inches above Mean Sea Level (the peak doesn't show here as these
data are averaged over one hour). Note: that it is only 2 ft 9 inches above the normal predicted high tide for 10 & 11 September.  It takes less than 3 ft above "normal" to cause local beach flooding, dune erosion, the beaching of tons of debris & litter, the closure of the JFK Causeway, the flooding of North Beach area in Corpus Christi, and a visit by The Weather Channel News Team. The so-called "100-year Storm" could produce a 20-ft tide. Think about that if the urge to ride out a hurricane on our barrier islands ever grabs you.

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Tropical Storm Josephine (1996)


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The graph shows the predicted and recorded tides at the MSI Pier Laboratory tide gage located off the South Jetty of the Aransas Pass (27 50.3'N; 097 03.0'W) which connects Corpus Christi Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. The graph covers a 14-day period starting 30 September 1996 during which high tides from Tropical Storm Josephine caused considerable coastal flooding and beach

erosion. The peak high came at 0158 CDT 07 October 1996 with a level of 3' 1" above Mean Sea Level (MSL).  At that time Josephine still bore the ignominious name "Tropical Depression #10", but even so, erosion from this storm produced the most beach erosion on Mustang Island since Hurricane Allen in August 1980, slightly greater than September 1988's Hurricane Gilbert erosion. The tides are referenced to MSL. Note that almost all of October's tides are above MSL. October has the highest astronomical tides of the year. Note also that the storm-elevated water level remained high for nearly a week and that it fortunately arrived as the astronomical tides were in a diminishing period. One week earlier or later and an additional foot of water would have done even greater damage.

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