Hurricane Harvey’s legacy will be its disastrous rainfall, but when it slammed ashore as a Category 4 hurricane, its 130-mph-plus winds left behind a trail of extreme destruction in Rockport, Tex.
Rockport, the coastal town about 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, population 10,000, caught the brunt of Harvey’s vicious core. The eye passed directly overhead, meaning it was subjected to the storm’s eyewall — the zone of strongest winds — twice, as the storm approached and departed.
“The whole city looks as though it’s been tipped on its axis,” described the Los Angeles Times. “Everything that’s standing leans.”
Hurricane chaser Josh Morgerman positioned himself in Rockport to intercept the storm and documented its incredible winds in the video above. Morgerman has witnessed dozens of hurricanes and said this was one of the worst he’s seen.
“The winds were just ferocious,” Morgerman said “I don’t think it’s something people realize.”
When the storm’s inner core arrived, he said, it was terrifying. “Once we got into the inner edge of the core which had embedded mesovortices [violent, swirling winds, not unlike a tornado], the wind direction was extremely erratic,” he said. “That’s especially scary because debris is blowing every which way and if debris hits you at that speed, it’s instant death.”
In the aftermath, Morgerman said heavy damage was “very widespread” with structural damage all around town to buildings and homes. “Roofs and walls were stripped away,” he said. “Our brand new corporate hotel had a wall ripped off. It just looked like a doll house. You could look in and see rooms and the staircase.”
Morgerman said the scene reminded him of the toll inflicted by Hurricane Odile, which caused severe damage in Cabo San Lucas in September 2014. “Harvey was a shade stronger [Odile’s peak winds were 125 mph vs. Harvey’s 130 mph], but they were comparable,” he said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has compiled aerial imagery which shows the extent of the damage in Rockport.
Below are two before and after images:
Below, find some additional photos of the scenes around Rockport, post-Harvey: