As Alex churns in the Gulf of Mexico one has to wonder what its chances are of turning into a hurricane and impacting the Houston Galveston area. According to Dr Neil Frank, who has been tracking hurricanes most of his life, there have only been three hurricanes since 1950 strike the Texas coast. The hurricanes where Audrey, Alice and Bonnie, the most recent. Hurricane Audrey was the most noteworthy since it was a category 4 with winds of 145 mph making landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border. Hurricane Audrey remains the earliest June hurricane to reach category four status. Dr Frank said the loss of life with Audrey was due to inadequate warnings in advance of the storm. Most of the fatalities were in Cameron, Louisiana, which had the dirty side of the storm. Audrey, like Tropical Storm Alex, was a Cape Verde storm beginning as a wave off the African coast near the Cape Verde Island. These types of storms are even rarer in June, usually forming during the peak of the Hurricane season in September.
From 1900 to 1950 the number of land falling hurricanes doubled to six. The 1921 hurricane impacted the Houston-Galveston area directly.
Before the turn of the century, June hurricanes where almost as rare as the previous fifty years, with only two hurricanes making landfall along the upper Gulf Coast. So on average, over the last 150 years, one hurricane has formed every 10 years with one tropical storm forming every 5 years. Dr Neil Frank says you don't have to wait for a hurricane to see destruction in June. The most recent example is Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. The storm dropped 40 inches of rain along its path leaving 30,000 people homeless and destroyed 2,744 homes. The Houston area was the most impacted by the floods with several bayous cresting throughout the county. Alex has a very good chance of turning into a hurricane over the next 24hrs. The shearing currents remain weak and the gulf temperatures are slightly warmer than usual. If Alex does intensify as forecast, it will join the ranks of those rare June cyclones on the Texas coast.