Climatologist Isaac Cline dismissed the notion that a hurricane could devastate the island city of Galveston, but when he noticed unusually heavy swells from the southeast, he drove his horse and buggy along the beach warning people to move to the mainland. Unfortunately, Cline's initially cavalier attitude about the storm may have played a part in the huge loss of life -- between 8,000 and 12,000 deaths -- because less than half the population evacuated and some people came from Houston just to watch.
The U.S. Weather Bureau ranked the storm a category 4 hurricane with wind speeds measured at 100 miles per hour before the measuring device blew away. Other records say winds peaked around 145 miles per hour. The hurricane wiped out about three-quarters of the city and caused nearly $20 million in damages.