This page is about hurricanes and their effect on ecosystems.

What is a Hurricane?Edit

A storm that has low pressure in the center and is surrounded by thunderstorms, which produce heavy rains and strong winds.

Environmental Impacts on EcosystemsEdit

Hurricane Ike 385

Hurricane Ike

Hurricanes damage estuaries and coastal habitats the most, as well as many other habitats. The strong winds the hurricane brings can defoiliate forest areas, clearing away leaves and causing dramatic changes. The heavy rainfall and the storm surge can also cause floods. Still, hurricanes can kill animals living in the affected area immediately or the changes or the animals habitat caused by the hurricane will kill the animal. Along with that, there may be food shortage, another contributing factor to the death of an animal, due to the fact that the prey has died.

Aquatic EcosystemsEdit

Sediment erosion and deposition affects coral reefs and oyster beds. Also, hurricanes bring in saltwater to the freshwater lakes, which can harm the aquatic animals there. Often, floodwater (water overflowing as the result of a flood) is contaminated by heavy metals, pesticides, ammonia, phosphate and untreated water sewage. These substances can cause a degration of water quality. This also may cause a decrease in dissolved oxygen which harm organisms if there is not enough.

Terrestrial EcosystemsEdit

Na-bw-Ike-Texas t640

Aftermath of Hurricane Ike in Texas.

Storm surge causes sediments to shift; barrier islands may be eroded below sea level or shifted. Mangrove forests, which are home to some birds, may also be destroyed. The fallen trees could be fuel for a forest fire. Salt water makes some habitats unsuitable for some animals to live and sea grass beds are destroyed. Sea grass beds are very much needed for feeding and nesting.

Notable hurricanes in Texas and their damageEdit

  • Tropical Depression Eight (August 1981) – 18 in. of rainfall in Cheapside; Lavaca, Guadilupe, and Colorado rivers flood
  • 220px-Hurricane Alicia 1983

    Hurricane Alicia

    Hurricane Alicia (1983) – Category 3 hurricane; heavy rainfall in Southeast Texas; peak wind speed is 102 mph in Galveston; storm surge is up to approx. 12 ft.; causes 23 tornadoes
  • Hurricane Gilbert (1988) – beach erosion on Padre Island; rainfall peak at 7.45 in. in Anson; causes 29 tornadoes
  • Tropical Storm Allison (1989) – produces torrential rain around Texas (peaks at Orange, 20.28 in.); beach erosion on Padre Island
  • Tropical Storm Frances (1998) – rainfall causes floods in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana, which causes rivers and bayous overflow
  • Hurricane Bret (1999) – Category 3 hurricane; beach erosion occurs as a result of this hurricane; heavy rainfall occurs in South Texas - 13.18 in. in Sarita
  • Tropical Storm Allison (2001) – extreme amount of rain caused by this storm cause catastrophic flooding, it fills the bayous to alarming levels and the rainfall peaks at 36.99 at Port of Houston
  • Hurricane Rita (2005) – there is major flooding in Beaumont and Port Arthur
  • Tropical Storm Edouard (2008) – brought rain to the drought in Texas (helpful)
  • Hurricane Ike (2008) – Category 2 hurricane; makes a storm surge as high as 20 ft.; makes heavy rain - max. is 18.9 in.
  • Tropical Storm Lee (2011) – causes slight rain in Texas, in Nederland - max 3.97 in.; strong winds helped ignite many forest fires