August 5, 1970, was a late summer day like any other in Texas — stormy, but no heavy rain or wind. When Hurricane Celia first showed up on radars in Corpus Christi, she too looked like just another summer storm. Two days later, when Celia vented the last of her rage 700 miles west in El Paso, she’d flattened whole towns with her 160-mph winds, and gutted farms. Total estimated damage: $4.6 billion in today’s money.
In 2023, we can track hurricanes a lot better than we could in 1970, but we still can’t stop them. And while monster storms aren’t everyday events in Texas, they aren’t freak occurrences either. Since 1851, when we started keeping records, 66 major hurricanes have hit in the Lone Star State. That’s the second-highest number after Florida.
In this guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about Texas hurricane season, including:
- When to expect Texas hurricane season this year
- Which areas in Texas are at at highest risk for hurricane damage
- What you need to know to protect your home and family from hurricanes
Did You Know? Hurricane tracking has improved a lot over the past three decades. In 1990, for example, storm experts could predict a hurricane’s landfall to within 300 nautical miles. Today, that number has shrunk to less than 100 miles.
When Is Hurricane Season in Texas?
Like hurricane season in Florida, Texas hurricane season is an unwanted guest that arrives early (late June) and sticks around way too long (end of November). That’s five months, if you’re counting — five months of potentially catastrophic flooding and wind damage.
For those five months, weather systems traveling to Texas from the Caribbean and as far away as Africa smack into the warmer-water currents flowing in from the Gulf of Mexico, creating, if not the perfect storm, the right conditions for devastating tropical cyclones.
For home and business owners in Texas whose livelihoods are at risk, five months is a huge amount of time to be on high alert 24/7. But you don’t need to be. While hurricanes can technically strike in Texas from early summer to late fall, August is historically the worst month, followed by September. October has seen only three hurricanes since 1851. So late summer, early fall is code red for Texas homeowners.
FYI: The worst natural disaster in U.S. history struck Texas in 1900. That’s the day the Great Galveston Hurricane plowed inland from the Gulf Coast, killing at least 8,000 people and destroying over 3,500 homes with its 15-foot waves and 140-mph winds.2
Texas Areas at High Risk for Hurricanes
Figuring out Texas’ most hurricane-prone locations isn’t so cut and dried. Sure, you can trace your finger over the length of the Gulf Coast from Brownsville through Corpus Christie to Ingleside. That’s roughly 3,400 miles of shoreline, and every inch of it is fair game for violent storms come hurricane season.
But let’s return to Hurricane Celia for a minute, the storm that blindsided Corpus Christi in 1970. Celia smacked into coastal Corpus Christie, then proceeded to roll over towns as far inland as George West, 68 miles away. Ten years before Celia, high winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Carla reached Austin, 170 miles away from landfall in Port O’Connor!
Granted, coastal cities like Houston and Galveston will always bear the brunt of storms. But just like in Florida, Texas property owners further inland are still at risk, especially for water damage from flooding, which can be devastating too.
Which brings us to home insurance. It’s true that no two homeowners policies are the same, even if you live in the same city, which can make calculating the amount of home insurance you need tricky. But when it comes to affordable homeowners coverage in Texas, there are a few extra elements to take into consideration. Insuring against hurricane damage, as you may already know, tops the list.
Extra Tip: According to the risk experts at the nonprofit Flood Factor, nearly 1 in 5 Texas property owners has more than a 25 percent chance of suffering severe flooding damage over the next 30 years.3
Texas Hurricane Insurance Essentials
Just like we saw in Florida, in Texas, insurance companies essentially strip hurricane coverage from their standard plans, forcing property owners to purchase additional windstorm coverage to fully protect their homes. In Texas, the extra coverage isn’t required by law, but if you’ve got a mortgage, your bank may require it.
Optional coverage might sound like a windfall for Texans — one less deductible to pay. But we don’t recommend going without hurricane protection in Texas. The risks are just too great. Instead, we have some recommendations below.
Purchase Extra Windstorm Coverage
Depending on where you live, you may need to purchase additional windstorm coverage to be fully protected against tropical storms and hurricanes. In Galveston and Houston, as well as many areas along the coast, this is definitely the case. Further inland, you’ll have to talk with your insurance provider. Extra windstorm coverage usually comes with its own deductible, or the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance policy kicks in.
Consider Flood Insurance
No insurance provider, not even the very best insurance companies on the market, covers flood damage. But that doesn’t mean you should go without flood insurance in Texas. Flooding can saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in property damage, as uninsured homeowners hit by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 found out the hard way, when the average claim for water damage from flooding was $80,000.4
FYI: When Hurricane Ike struck Galveston in 2008, it left almost $30 billion worth of damage in its wake, most of that from 22-foot swells that caused catastrophic water damage.5
Make a Hurricane Plan for Your Home and Family
You’re going to have to tweak or add to this three-step plan based on your family’s needs, but here’s a bare-bones way to prepare for a hurricane in Texas:
- Insure your property for the right amount. Keeping your family and pets safe is your top priority during hurricane season, but everyone wants to return home once the waters recede. Even if it’s not required by law, we recommend insuring your Texas home or business completely against hurricanes. If windstorm and flood insurance aren’t available through traditional providers, consider the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)6 and the Texas FAIR Plan.7 And remember, the right dwelling coverage isn’t how much you paid for your home or how much it’s worth, it’s the amount you will need to build it back after a disaster.
- Put together a disaster preparedness kit. Your disaster kit should be ready to grab in the event of an emergency. The Texas Hurricane Center recommends you have enough water and food to last 72 hours, plus a flashlight and batteries. That’s good advice. Your kit should also include important documents like your medical and home insurance policies, your emergency contacts list, and any medical supplies you need.
- Prepare a hurricane plan. Know how you’re going to get out of town, where you’re going to go, and how you’re going to stay in touch with family in case you’re not together when a hurricane strikes. You should also know where your local shelters are in case you can’t make it out of town.
Extra Tip: Don’t try driving through flood waters during a hurricane. All it takes is one foot of moving water to wash away your car.
If I had to make a list of scary household dangers, 160-mph winds battering my home would be at the very top. The fact that hurricane season lasts so long in Texas makes the threat of those monster winds that much scarier.
But Texas property owners can take some of the worry out of the equation by securing their homes with the right amount of home insurance. Flood insurance is key here. Remember, the average water damage claim ($80,000) from Hurricane Harvey dwarfed the average property claim ($7,600).
I’m not suggesting that home insurance trumps family safety. Definitely not. That’s what hurricane plans (see above) are for. But surviving a hurricane is rough enough with a fully insured home. Without one, getting your house back the way you left it may be impossible.
Did You Know? When flood waters recede in Texas, they can leave odd things behind — like the 4-foot fangtooth eel Preeti Desai found on the beach while covering Hurricane Harvey for the National Audubon Society, or the dozens of coffins that bobbed above ground along Interstate 10.8
Hurricane season in Texas starts at the end of June and lasts all the way through the end of November, though August and September are the peak months. The further you are away from the Gulf Coast, the safer you are if a hurricane makes landfall, but hurricanes can drive torrential rains inland that can lead to severe and extremely costly flooding. No, it isn’t. But your homeowners coverage might not include protection from hurricanes, and we highly recommend you have it. Yes, it does. You can also check out FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program if traditional insurance isn’t an option. Yes, you can. If you’re a property owner in Texas, we recommend checking out Lemonade insurance policies, which tend to be cheaper and more straightforward than those offered by many competitors. Also worth looking at are Nationwide homeowners plans and State Farm home insurance, which offers excellent home and auto bundles.
Hurricane season in Texas starts at the end of June and lasts all the way through the end of November, though August and September are the peak months.
The further you are away from the Gulf Coast, the safer you are if a hurricane makes landfall, but hurricanes can drive torrential rains inland that can lead to severe and extremely costly flooding.
No, it isn’t. But your homeowners coverage might not include protection from hurricanes, and we highly recommend you have it.
Yes, it does. You can also check out FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program if traditional insurance isn’t an option.
Yes, you can. If you’re a property owner in Texas, we recommend checking out Lemonade insurance policies, which tend to be cheaper and more straightforward than those offered by many competitors. Also worth looking at are Nationwide homeowners plans and State Farm home insurance, which offers excellent home and auto bundles.