An upper-level high pressure ridge over Texas and south-southwest winds are bringing extreme summer heat to Galveston. Although high temperatures will range from the near to low 90s at the coast and mid-90s inland over the county, heat and humidity will put heat indexes in excess of 100 degrees to 105 degrees through Friday, meaning that residents should be very cautious about becoming overheated and/or leaving any children or pets in automobiles.
One possible relief, especially in the late afternoon and evenings will be the brisk south to southwest winds, gusting to as much as 30 mph near the bay and coast. In addition, an influx of deeper moisture and weak disturbances to our north may bring some thundershower activity back in our picture this weekend, though warmer than normal conditions should continue into next week.
Meanwhile, with the relative lull in tropical activity, I would like to share a bit of Galveston weather history, involving the chamber of commerce.
Following the 1900 Storm, Galvestonians were determined not to be caught off guard by any approaching hurricanes. Initially the National Weather Service Office took responsibility for alerting citizens of any impending blows, making use of the telephone to contact persons down the Island and to answer all inquiries directed to them through the telephone exchange. With the rapid increase in telephone subscribers, this system soon proved unfeasible. Both Weather Bureau staff and telephone operators were overwhelmed with calls from “thousands of anxious” residents when a major hurricane menaced the coast in 1919.
In 1921, local businessman Joseph Maurer proposed that a local committee be formed to distribute weather bulletins in public places such as fire stations, the post office, local newspapers and other downtown locations. This solution, however, did not satisfy citizens wanting quick updates or who were unable to view the posted bulletins. So in 1932, the chamber of commerce devised a plan whereby a representative of the weather bureau and chamber of commerce volunteers would be stationed at the telephone company during threatening weather in order to “disseminate” information to city residents.
This solution proved so popular that in 1933, the chamber of commerce installed its own switchboard so that the Weather Committee could operate directly from the chamber office whenever hurricanes appeared. For the next two decades, the chamber of commerce served as many citizens first and best source for up to date storm information, often taking thousands of calls during weather emergencies.
By the 1950’s, the rapid development of radio and television eliminated the need for a telephone information service and the chamber phased-out the operation, allowing this once vital link to take its place in the annals of the city’s history.