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Celia remains costliest storm in Corpus Christi history

Hurricane Celia
Posted at 8:50 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 21:59:00-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It’s the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Celia, the costliest storm in Corpus Christi history.

Celia was a Category 3 storm when she made landfall on that fateful afternoon of Aug. 3, 1970. It was the only time in the recorded history of Corpus Christi that the eye of the storm passed over the city, producing the strongest wind gust every recorded here at 161 mph. The highest wind gusts in the area reached 180 mph! Most people that were here for the storm feared for their lives.

Celia struck Corpus Christi directly, head on. The eye wall moved right through our city on that dreadful day. So when that storm moved into the Gulf of Mexico it was just a tropical depression. but over the course of a couple of days the storm intensified and in the last 15 hours before landfall rapidly intensified very similar to Harvey. >

Celia killed 15 people in South Texas.

The storm ended up causing more than $500 million in damage.

In today's dollars, that would come out to nearly $3 billion.

The most severe damage was in Corpus Christi, Aransas Pass, Portland and Robstown.

So that storm was very devastating. It was primarily the wind impacts that cause the most damage. It was an unusual storm in that the winds occurred. The strongest winds were documented on the western side of the eye wall.

Seventy percent of all homes and businesses in Corpus Christi were damaged by Celia.

About 90% of the buildings in downtown were damaged to some degree.

Because of rapid intensification, the highest storm surge only reached 9 feet.

Imagine losing everything. losing your home and all of your belongings. So that had a huge impact on residents that lived here and went through that storm.

Most folks were here and rode out that storm because warnings were issued only on the morning of landfall.

There wasn't much time for people to get out or make preparations. So it’s just so important to look at Celia being an August storm.

It remains to this day one of the most significant storms in Texas history.