Wind and Rain Begin to Pelt Texas Coast Ahead of ‘Deadly Storm’ (2024)

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Wind and Rain Begin to Pelt Texas Coast Ahead of ‘Deadly Storm’ (1)

Edgar Sandoval,Miranda Rodriguez and Maria Jimenez Moya

Reporting from the Texas coast

More than a million Texans are under a hurricane warning. Here is the latest.

Wind and rain from the outer bands of Tropical Storm Beryl lashed parts of the Texas coast on Sunday evening, as the storm’s wind speeds remained just below hurricane status. Officials warned that not enough people were leaving in the face of a threat that tore a deadly path across the Caribbean, killing 11.

Forecasters cautioned that Beryl could intensify before making landfall somewhere between Galveston and Corpus Christi early Monday. The storm will carry enough rain to cause significant flooding in the Houston area and further inland.

Here are the key things to know:

  • The forecast: Beryl had maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour as of 7 p.m. Central time, up from 60 m.p.h. earlier in the day. (Storms are considered hurricanes when their winds reach 74 m.p.h.) It was expected to bring damaging winds, life-threatening storm surge and up to 15 inches of rain, according to the National Hurricane Center. “It will be a deadly storm for people who are directly in that path,” said Dan Patrick, the state’s lieutenant governor. Track the storm.

  • Texas makes preparations: Officials issued a disaster declaration for 121 counties and readied the National Guard, search-and-rescue teams and other emergency responders ahead of the storm. More than a million people across Texas were under a hurricane warning. Mr. Patrick, who is in charge while Gov. Greg Abbott visits Asia for a trade mission, said traffic data showed that roads were relatively clear, and worried that beach vacationers weren’t aware of the danger approaching.

  • The storm’s impact so far: Before reaching the Gulf of Mexico, Beryl plowed through the Caribbean, flattening islands, inundating communities and becoming the first hurricane to reach Category 5 status this early in the season. It made landfall twice last week — once in Carriacou, a small island north of Grenada, and then in Mexico. In the wake of the storm, Caribbean leaders have already called for more action on climate change from Western countries.

  • Climate change’s role: Researchers have found that climate change has increased the frequency of major hurricanes, because warmer ocean temperatures provide more energy that fuels these storms. It is also making hurricanes intensify faster and produce more rain with a higher storm surge. Beryl’s quick escalation to a major hurricane is a bad sign for the rest of the season, forecasters say.

John Keefe, Emily Schmall, Kate Selig and Isabelle Taft contributed reporting.

July 7, 2024, 8:47 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 8:47 p.m. ET

Jack Healy

About 300 flights in and out of Houston were canceled on Sunday, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware.

July 7, 2024, 8:13 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 8:13 p.m. ET

Isabelle Taft

Beryl could knock out power in Texas. How has the grid fared before?

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As Beryl’s winds and rain begin to lash coastal Texas on Sunday evening, one thing was almost as certain as the arrival of the storm itself: Some Texans are expected to lose electricity as it barrels through their state.

“There will be power outages,” said Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, at a news conference about storm preparations on Sunday afternoon.

Storms frequently cause outages because strong winds can bring branches and trees crashing down on power lines, and also damage other parts of the system.

Beryl was forecast to bring winds of up to 110 miles per hour to parts of southeast Texas by early Monday.

Texans are unusually familiar with power outages: The state had more weather-related power outages from 2000 to 2021 than any other, according to the advocacy organization Climate Central.

The most infamous power outage in the state’s recent history was caused not by tropical storm activity in the summer but by a deep freeze in 2021, when bitterly cold weather caused the electricity grid to fail, with millions losing power for days. The power outage contributed to more than 240 deaths.

But hurricanes have also caused widespread and lengthy outages in the state.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike left two million customers across eastern Texas without power for three days after the storm. Line crews from 31 states converged on the state to repair what was then the biggest power failure in state history. The storm caused not only the typical line outages from fallen trees, but also damage to substations and the towers holding high-voltage transmission lines. Floodwaters even drove snakes and other wild animals into a power substation near the Louisiana border.

Most people, at least in the Houston area, had their power back on within 10 days.

Hurricane Harvey, in 2017, was a different story. Even though it was the second-most expensive hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland since 1900, the Public Utility Commission of Texas said no more than 350,000 customers were without power at any time.

Some buildings in downtown Houston that had retained power during Ike lost it during Harvey, because the underground power system that had been protected from Ike’s intense winds flooded during Harvey’s relentless rains.

Hurricane Rita, in 2005, also caused widespread power outages lasting as long as seven days in some Texas counties.

Texas officials, electricity companies and individuals were all thinking about the grid as Beryl churned through the Gulf of Mexico. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the Public Utility Commission had designated personnel to coordinate with utility providers across the area in Beryl’s path.

Thomas Muñoz, Houston’s emergency management coordinator, said city officials were monitoring nursing and assisted living homes and preparing to provide services like oxygen and medical help if they lose power for an extended period.

CenterPoint Energy, which serves about 2.8 million customers in the Houston area, had brought in thousands of additional workers to respond to outages, Mr. Muñoz said.

Ahead of Beryl’s arrival, AEP Texas, which delivers electricity to one million customers in South and West Texas, got reinforcements from its counterpart in Ohio. More than 120 Ohio line workers drove to Texas to help with power restoration efforts, the company said on Facebook.

Some Texans aim to avoid outages altogether by installing generators. Robert DeShazo, president of Generator Supercenter’s branches in Victoria, Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley, said his businesses got more calls than usual this week as people prepared for Beryl.

“When it goes out here, it goes out for a while,” he said, noting that power providers typically restore electricity in populous areas first, so smaller towns are more affected by long outages. “And it’s hot.”

A correction was made on

July 7, 2024

:

An earlier version of this article misstated the year that Hurricane Harvey struck Texas. It was 2017, not 2018.

How we handle corrections

Source: National Hurricane Center All times on the map are Central time. Map shows probabilities of at least 5 percent. The forecast is for up to five days, with that time span starting up to three hours before the reported time that the storm reaches its latest location. Wind speed probability data is not available north of 60.25 degrees north latitude. By William B. Davis, John Keefe and Bea Malsky

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July 7, 2024, 6:50 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 6:50 p.m. ET

Isabelle Taft

Here’s what to expect as Beryl is set to hit Texas.

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Beryl is forecast to make landfall in Texas as a Category 1 hurricane early Monday, and heavy winds and rain had already arrived in parts of the state by Sunday afternoon.

The storm is expected to hit near Matagorda Bay, about 100 miles southwest of Houston, and bring strong rip currents, flooding, heavy rainfall and winds of up to 110 miles per hour to the coast, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials and meteorologists warn that because Beryl will continue to intensify as it churns through the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the storm could strengthen to a Category 2 by the time it reaches the Texas shore.

Storm surge will move water inland, potentially covering areas from the northern part of the Padre Island National Seashore to Sabine Pass on the border with Louisiana. The National Weather Service predicts storm surge of up to seven feet around Matagorda, Texas, up to six feet around Galveston Bay, and three to five feet to the northeast and southwest of those areas.

Heavy rainfall of five to 15 inches is forecast across the Texas Gulf Coast and in eastern Texas through Monday night. In Houston, residents can expect six to eight inches of rain, while coastal communities including Galveston are expected to see eight to 12.

Because Beryl is moving at a relatively quick speed of about 10 miles per hour and is expected to maintain that speed, according to state officials, the storm will linger less over already-soaked communities. It is moving much faster than Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which slowed to about five miles per hour after making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane and stalled in South and Southeast Texas for days, causing devastating flooding.

After making landfall, Beryl is expected to turn northeast and move into eastern Texas and Arkansas late Monday and Tuesday. Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, emphasized that flooding will be a risk far inland, in places like Tyler and Texarkana.

The storm could also bring tornadoes along the central and upper Texas coast on Sunday night, and across eastern Texas and Louisiana on Tuesday.

With these conditions, Mr. Kidd said residents should be ready for power outages in the coming days.

July 7, 2024, 5:57 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 5:57 p.m. ET

Edgar Sandoval

Reporting from Corpus Christi, Texas

Almost in an instant, the skies in Corpus Christi went from bright blue to gray. People found themselves running for cover from heavy rain.

Video

Wind and Rain Begin to Pelt Texas Coast Ahead of ‘Deadly Storm’ (6)

July 7, 2024, 6:38 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 6:38 p.m. ET

Edgar Sandoval

Reporting from Corpus Christi, Texas

After a brief but heavy storm, calm skies have returned to Corpus Christi for now.

Wind and Rain Begin to Pelt Texas Coast Ahead of ‘Deadly Storm’ (8)

July 7, 2024, 5:47 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 5:47 p.m. ET

Maria Jimenez Moya

Reporting from Galveston, Texas

Two lifeguard trucks are patrolling along the seawall in Galveston to ensure people are no longer swimming as heavy rainfall and rowdy waves begin to hit.“This storm is really early in the season, and the trajectory has jumped around,” said Chief Peter Davis of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol. “This makes us a little bit nervous, since it’s unpredictable.”

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July 7, 2024, 5:20 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 5:20 p.m. ET

Edgar Sandoval

Reporting from Corpus Christi, Texas

The streets of Corpus Christi remained relatively quiet on Sunday afternoon, a sign that most people were heeding the warning to stay home. One notable exception: The city's memorial statue to the late pop singer Selena continued to draw people to the waterfront.

July 7, 2024, 5:00 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 5:00 p.m. ET

Edgar Sandoval

Reporting from Corpus Christi, Texas

At Port Aransas, some residents rushed to take the last ferry out of the island town.

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On Sunday afternoon, William Parker took one more look at the island town of Port Aransas as he hopped on the last ferry before services closed in anticipation of Beryl. Mr. Parker said he decided to heed the mandatory evacuation order.

“It felt good to get out on time,” said Mr. Parker, a 63-year-old maintenance worker. “If you see the satellite images, it’s not far. It’s just there, right off the coast,” he said, referring to the storm that was approaching Texas.

Port Aransas, a small but popular island destination in Texas with about 3,600 residents, tends to be overwhelmed by storm surges, and Mr. Parker said he was most fearful of the sea rising, pointing at the gulf waters, which were getting rougher by the minute. A handful of motorists had the same idea as Mr. Parker, and they raced to make the last ferry before it was shut down.

After getting off the boat, Mr. Parker stopped to help his girlfriend, Linda Norman, 63, pack her belongings from a trailer where she lives, steps away from the port.

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“We made it just on time. You can’t mess around with hurricanes. If the water comes up to the bridge, all of this is gone,” he said looking over the bridge that takes drivers to Aransas Pass, the next town over.

Ms. Norman was thankful for Mr. Parker’s help. She held on to her blind dog, a small Brussels Griffon also named Linda, who seemed oblivious of the impending danger. “I would not leave her behind,” Ms. Norman said, hugging her tighter. “She’s my world.”

Mr. Parker packed decorations and valuable items onto a Ford Explorer. He and Ms. Norman had lost most of their belongings during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, they said. “We had to start all over again,” Ms. Norman said. “This time we’re going to try and save as much as we can.”

Asked where they were headed, Mr. Parker tilted his head away from the sea. “There, inland,” he said.

Wind and Rain Begin to Pelt Texas Coast Ahead of ‘Deadly Storm’ (11)

July 7, 2024, 4:08 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 4:08 p.m. ET

Miranda Rodriguez

Reporting from Corpus Christi, Texas

The water is starting to get choppy in Aransas Bay, which separates Corpus Christi from barrier islands along the Texas coast. Restaurants along the bay front are open for now, but many will be closing at 6 p.m.

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Wind and Rain Begin to Pelt Texas Coast Ahead of ‘Deadly Storm’ (12)

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Wind and Rain Begin to Pelt Texas Coast Ahead of ‘Deadly Storm’ (13)

July 7, 2024, 3:55 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 3:55 p.m. ET

Edgar Sandoval,Maria Jimenez Moya and Jack Healy

Edgar Sandoval reported from Corpus Christi, Texas; Maria Jimenez Moya reported from Galveston, Texas; and Jack Healy reported from Phoenix.

State officials urge coastal Texans to evacuate, but some are unfazed by the storm.

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As Beryl chugged toward the Texas Gulf Coast on Sunday, oil workers fled drilling platforms, tourist towns battered by previous storms shut down their ferries, and state officials urged people to evacuate at-risk low-lying coastal areas.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick warned on Sunday that Beryl would be a “deadly storm” that would bring significant rain, winds and flooding. He issued disaster declarations for 121 counties in recent days.

“It’s a serious storm, and you must take it seriously,” he said in a news briefing on Sunday. “You don’t want to be in six to 12 inches of rain. You don’t want to be in flooding.”

Mr. Patrick expressed concern that people were not paying enough attention to updates on Beryl — which is currently a tropical storm but is expected to intensify into a Category 1 hurricane — with thousands vacationing on the coast during the holiday weekend. Traffic data on Sunday afternoon showed the roads were not clogged with people evacuating. “The maps are still green,” Mr. Patrick said. “We don’t see many people leaving.”

Indeed, many locals were unfazed by the storm and decided to stay, gambling that they could survive its wind and rains.

“Those that have left have already gone,” said Alysa Jarvis, vice president of a community group in Seadrift, a coastal city of 1,000 people. “I’m staying, though.”

Ms. Jarvis said that she and other residents were paying close attention to the storm’s expected path as it curled northward, but that she wanted to stay at her waterfront home so she could run its sump pump to keep it from flooding.

The Sunday brunch rush was in full force at Bubba’s Seafood, a Cajun-style seafood restaurant in Seadrift. But it planned to close early on Sunday as staff members kept a wary eye on the bands of rain beginning to spray the coast. Tamra Flores, a manager at the restaurant, said she and her family had moved their boats into storage and put away their patio furniture. But she did not plan to evacuate.

“We’re a very small community, so a lot of our patrons are hometown people who aren’t going to go anywhere,” she said.

In Aransas Pass, a small hamlet near Corpus Christi, a volunteer evacuation notice was issued on Saturday, meaning residents were strongly urged but not required to leave. Paulette Alvizo, 32, watched a line of cars driving inland on Saturday but decided not to join them. She filled up two tanks of gasoline at a boarded-up gas station on Sunday morning, and said she was confident that she had enough water and food to ride the storm out with her husband and four children.

“This is not our first storm,” she said. “We are going to stick it out.”

The scenes at big-box stores along the coast reflected both preparation and nonchalance. At a Walmart in Galveston, supplies of bottled water were running low, as people prepared for possible power outages and boil-water notices. But at a Home Depot in Corpus Christi, many shoppers bypassed the sandbags and water bottles and instead went for garden supplies and outdoor furniture.

On Galveston Island, Cesar Laiva, 53, a construction worker, assembled his usual hurricane-preparation supplies: plywood, sandbags and screws. Mr. Laiva, who has lived on the island for 30 years, called the situation “not that bad.”

Others secured their patio furniture, took down umbrellas, gassed up their generators, covered their windows with sheets of plywood — and waited to see how bad the storm would be.

Miranda Rodriguez contributed reporting from Corpus Christi, Texas.

July 7, 2024, 3:14 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 3:14 p.m. ET

Edgar Sandoval

Reporting from Corpus Christi, Texas

Gas stations like this one in Aransas Pass, a small town just outside Corpus Christi, are already boarded up and getting ready to close as soon as the first rain drops begin to fall.

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July 7, 2024, 3:00 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 3:00 p.m. ET

Isabelle Taft

Beryl’s trail of destruction so far.

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Before Beryl threatened the Texas coast on Sunday, the storm caused destruction across several other countries as it made its way through the Caribbean and toward the Gulf of Mexico.

After forming in the Atlantic Ocean in late June, Beryl ripped through the Caribbean as a Category 4 hurricane before making its way toward Texas. While it has since weakened to a tropical storm, it is expected to regain strength and make landfall in Texas as a Category 1 hurricane on Monday.

The storm has left a trail of destruction starting on July 1. Here’s where Beryl has wreaked havoc so far.

  • Carriacou and Petite Martinique, Grenada: Beryl slammed into the islands as a Category 4 hurricane on July 1, destroying roughly 98 percent of the buildings, which are home to around 10,000 people, according to officials. Three people were killed.

  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Hundreds of homes, schools and churches were severely damaged after Beryl passed as a Category 4 hurricane on July 1. One person was reported dead.

  • Venezuela: While Beryl didn’t strike the country when it arrived as a Category 4 hurricane just north of it on July 1, three died from the flooding it brought to the state of Sucre.

  • Jamaica: Beryl passed along Jamaica’s southern coast as a Category 4 hurricane on July 3, bringing strong winds, heavy rain and flooding. It left two people dead and hundreds of thousands of households without power.

  • Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico: Coming in as a Category 2 hurricane on July 5, Beryl brought heavy rain to popular vacation areas in Cancún and Tulum before weakening to a tropical storm. No deaths or injuries were reported.

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July 7, 2024, 2:54 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 2:54 p.m. ET

Isabelle Taft

Nim Kidd, head of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, warned residents of danger beyond the coast. “There will be inland flooding,” he said at a news briefing. “And what we find is this freshwater inland flooding tends to be more of a killer of our citizens than the actual storm surge.”

July 7, 2024, 2:49 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 2:49 p.m. ET

Isabelle Taft

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas said officials are concerned that thousands of people vacationing on the Gulf Coast may not be watching the news or checking email the way they normally would. Traffic data shows that the roads are not clogged with people evacuating the path of the storm. “The maps are still green,” he said. “We don’t see many people leaving.”

July 7, 2024, 2:48 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 2:48 p.m. ET

Isabelle Taft

Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas, said Beryl “will be a deadly storm for people who are directly in that path.” The state’s disaster declaration spans 121 counties because flooding could also affect inland areas like Texarkana and Tyler, he said at a news briefing.

July 7, 2024, 2:17 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 2:17 p.m. ET

John Keefe

Weather Data Editor

Beryl, still a tropical storm, could strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane before making landfall in Texas, National Hurricane Center forecasters warned in their latest forecast. “Rapid intensification is a distinct possibility,” they said, and would depend on the atmospheric conditions near the storm. For now, Beryl is forecast to grow only to a Category 1.

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July 7, 2024, 2:08 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 2:08 p.m. ET

Isabelle Taft

Drought-stricken parts of Texas could use some relief, but Beryl is unlikely to bring it.

By William B. Davis, John Keefe and Bea Malsky

Texans in areas plagued by drought conditions may be hoping Beryl will bring some relief. But they are likely to be disappointed: The storm is set to dump rain mostly on regions that do not really need it.

About a quarter of the state is currently in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, affecting areas mostly in West and Central Texas along the Rio Grande, as well as those just west of Austin and San Antonio. About 3.5 million Texans live in areas currently in moderate, severe or extreme levels of drought, the drought monitor shows.

But with Beryl forecast to head north and then east after making landfall along the central part of the Texas coast, that means rainfall is likely for only areas that are not in need of it, the drought monitor shows.

“Whenever we kind of miss out with one of these systems, where it doesn’t go into the area we wish it would go into, it just prolongs the agony of drought in the areas that really need water right now,” said Paul Yura, a meteorologist at the Austin-San Antonio office of the National Weather Service.

Texas generally relies on “tropical activity” for summertime rainfall, Mr. Yura said. And storms this year have already helped improve the drought outlook.

Last month, Tropical Storm Alberto brought rain to South Texas after making landfall in Mexico. Rains from that storm helped bring down the percentage of the state in drought from 30 percent to 25 percent. And before Alberto, an unusually wet first five months of the year helped the state’s drought outlook.

Last year was the hottest in Texas since at least 1895, and by last September, 86 percent of the state was in drought, according to the Texas Water Development Board. The state’s driest year on record was 2011, when almost all of its land — 99.96 percent — was experiencing drought in late September.

The picture today is highly regionalized, Mr. Yura said, with drought concentrated in West and South Central Texas. And nowhere in the state is facing as extreme conditions as those in 2011, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Wind and Rain Begin to Pelt Texas Coast Ahead of ‘Deadly Storm’ (21)

July 7, 2024, 1:29 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 1:29 p.m. ET

Miranda Rodriguez

Reporting from Corpus Christi, Texas

At the Bridgepoint Home Depot in Corpus Christi, pallets of bottled water and sandbags are still available. Several shoppers said they aren’t too concerned about the upcoming storm. Many are buying garden supplies and backyard furniture instead of storm supplies.

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Wind and Rain Begin to Pelt Texas Coast Ahead of ‘Deadly Storm’ (22)

July 7, 2024, 1:01 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 1:01 p.m. ET

Maria Jimenez Moya

Reporting from Galveston, Texas

Low-lying Galveston Island on the Texas coast is subject to a voluntary evacuation order, and judging by the traffic, many residents are heeding it. There's a line of cars extending for several blocks waiting to cross the only bridge to the mainland.

Video

Wind and Rain Begin to Pelt Texas Coast Ahead of ‘Deadly Storm’ (23)

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July 7, 2024, 1:00 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 1:00 p.m. ET

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega

Reporting from Mexico City

As Beryl largely spares northern Mexico, some take precautions while others enjoy the beach.

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Residents in Mexico’s northern state of Tamaulipas, across the Texas border, sighed in relief this weekend as they learned that Beryl would only bring moderate to heavy rains in a few locations. The storm was originally expected to make landfall in Mexico twice.

Still, authorities were taking no chances.

“Although the trajectory now may indicate that it is more focused on the Texas side, we ask not to be careless and not to let our guard down,” Héctor Joel Villegas González, the state’s government secretary, said in a news conference on Saturday. “Natural phenomena have no word of honor.”

Earlier in the week, officials in Tamaulipas set up temporary shelters, monitored dams, identified areas vulnerable to landslides and took steps to prevent potential flooding and road blockades — such as clearing the drainage and pruning trees.

Some people were heeding the authorities’ advice. René Aguirre Garza, who coordinates a residential neighborhood in Matamoros that has previously been affected by flooding, said some of his neighbors were placing sand bags around their houses and cleaning their streets.

Others were more carefree. Despite officials warning residents not to visit popular beaches facing the Gulf of Mexico, some beachgoers enjoyed the sun and the waves.

On Saturday, tourists, vendors and fishers strolled along Bagdad Beach in the municipality of Matamoros, unconcerned by the incoming storm. A few officials were urging people to go home, but residents replied that nothing would happen as Beryl was already moving north.

“We’ll see what happens,” said Francisco Gabriel Ponce Lara, a rescue coordinator with the Matamoros Red Cross. “As far as I know, we are only going to get about eight inches of rainfall.”

Just like it was no secret that Beryl would bring some much-needed rain to Texas, authorities in Tamaulipas also hoped the storm and the hurricane season would help end — at least temporarily — a historic and brutal drought in the state.

In May, before Tropical Storm Alberto drenched the northeastern coast of Mexico, about 97.7 percent of Tamaulipas was suffering from some degree of drought, according to the country’s meteorological service. In its latest report on Friday, the agency said that number had dropped to 16.3 percent.

“Water for our state has been a blessing because the dams have been empty,” Mr. Villegas González told reporters on Saturday, adding that a system of lagoons that provides water to thousands of locals “has recovered.”

According to the National Hurricane Center, a tropical storm warning was in effect on Sunday morning for the northeastern coast of Mexico.

Edyra Espriella contributed reporting from Matamoros, Mexico.

July 7, 2024, 12:11 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 12:11 p.m. ET

Edgar Sandoval

Reporting from Corpus Christi, Texas

The last hurricane to batter to Corpus Christi with damaging winds was Hanna in 2020. It destroyed many of the boats at Harbor Del Sol Marina, where people had taken refuge during the Covid-19 pandemic. Today, a lone boat at the harbor seemed to be getting ready to brave Beryl.

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July 7, 2024, 12:05 p.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 12:05 p.m. ET

Judson Jones

Reporter and meteorologist

Why Beryl is a bad sign for this year’s hurricane season.

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Over the course of a few short days, Beryl rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane last week, setting records for the earliest point in a season that a storm has grown so big.

This quick escalation was a direct result of the above-average sea surface temperatures as well as a harbinger of what is to come this hurricane season.

“This early-season storm activity is breaking records that were set in 1933 and 2005, two of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record,” said Philip Klotzbach, an expert in seasonal hurricane forecasts at Colorado State University.

Last fall, a study in the journal Scientific Reports found that Atlantic hurricanes from 2001 to 2020 were twice as likely to grow from a weaker storm into a hurricane of Category 3 or higher within 24 hours than they were from 1971 to 1990. The study added to a growing body of evidence that rapidly developing major hurricanes were becoming more likely.

Andra Garner, an assistant professor of environmental science at Rowan University in New Jersey and the author of the paper, called the findings an “urgent warning.”

A hurricane that intensifies faster can be more dangerous, as it allows less time for people in areas projected to be affected to prepare and evacuate. Late last October, Hurricane Otis moved up by multiple categories in just one day before slamming into Acapulco, Mexico, as a Category 5 hurricane that killed at least 52 people.

In Beryl’s case, it became a tropical storm late June 28, meaning it had sustained wind speeds of more than 39 miles per hour. The next afternoon, it became the season’s first hurricane, a Category 1, with wind speeds of 75 m.p.h. The morning after that, it became the earliest Category 4 hurricane on record, with wind speeds of more than 130 m.p.h.

And on July 1, after it had devastated Carriacou, a small island north of Grenada, Beryl became a Category 5 hurricane, with wind speeds of more than 160 m.p.h. It has since weakened to a tropical storm, but it is expected to intensify again before making another landfall in Texas as a Category 1 hurricane.

It is no surprise to meteorologists that Beryl was able to strengthen so quickly and behave more like a peak-season storm. Hurricanes suck up warm ocean water and use it as fuel. In an optimal weather environment like this past weekend’s, the ample heat energy rapidly increases the storm’s intensity.

Abundantly warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean have been a concern since last season’s overly active year. On June 28, Beryl formed around ocean temperatures that were warmer than they were this time last year, and are more akin to what they typically would be during the peak of hurricane season, in September. Normally, early-season activity is limited in this portion of the Atlantic because those ocean temperatures are relatively cool.

But now they are hot. That helped Beryl strengthen into the earliest Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic, according to Dr. Klotzbach. Previously, Hurricane Emily held the record for the earliest Category 5 hurricane, reaching that strength on July 16, 2005.

Because of the ocean’s heat, Beryl formed farther east in the Atlantic than any storm has in the month of June, breaking a record set by an unnamed storm formed east of the Caribbean on June 24, 1933.

The warm ocean temperature is one of the main reasons experts have been predicting an extremely active hurricane season this year. It is also why forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who predict there will be 8 to 13 hurricanes this season, believe about half of those will reach major hurricane status, as Beryl did this weekend.

Usually, early-season activity doesn’t have much bearing on the rest of the season’s activity. But, in June, when that activity occurs as far east as Beryl did, Dr. Klotzbach says, “it tends to be a harbinger of a very busy season.”

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July 7, 2024, 11:26 a.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 11:26 a.m. ET

Orlando Mayorquín

Texas has a long and deadly history of hurricanes.

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The tense scenes in the hours ahead of Beryl’s arrival are uncomfortably familiar to generations of weather-tested residents of the Texas coast.

Beryl, a tropical storm that was approaching the Texas shore early Sunday, may soon become the latest in a long line of hurricanes to hit the state.

Here are some notables ones. The death toll associated with each hurricane can vary widely in some cases, depending on the reporting authority and the criteria used to determine whether a death was caused by the storm.

Hurricane Harvey (2017)

Hurricane Harvey made a late-night landfall on the Texas coast near Rockport on Aug. 25, 2017, as a Category 4 hurricane. It was strongest storm to hit Texas since Hurricane Carla struck as a Category 4 in 1961.

Harvey unleashed dozens of tornadoes and brought severe flooding to Harris County and surrounding communities, swelling rivers to record levels and turning vast stretches of roads and buildings into a muddy sea, according to the National Weather Service.

At least 68 people died in Texas, according to the Weather Service.

Hurricane Ike (2008)

Ike reached its peak intensity as a Category 4 hurricane over the Caribbean before weakening to a Category 2 hurricane on Sept. 13, 2008, as it made landfall in the upper coast of Texas.

The storm was characterized by the significant storm surge it produced, roughly between 15 and 20 feet high along the Galveston shores, according to the Weather Service.

The deaths of least 28 people are attributed to Ike, according to the Weather Service. Other agencies, such as the Texas General Land Office, place the death toll at 74.

Hurricane Rita (2005)

Rita arrived on the shores of Texas and Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane on Sept. 24, 2005. The storm’s intensity peaked at Category 5 as it moved over the Gulf of Mexico.

Striking less than a month after Hurricane Katrina, it prompted mass evacuations and killed at least seven people, according to the Weather Service. Other counts put the number of dead at more than 100.

Galveston Hurricane (1900)

A Category 4 storm landed on the Texas shore south of Galveston on Sept. 8, 1900, swallowing Galveston Island, according to the Weather Service.

The storm was the deadliest weather-related disaster in the history of the United States at the time, claiming at least 6,000 lives and as many as 12,000 by some estimates.

Wind and Rain Begin to Pelt Texas Coast Ahead of ‘Deadly Storm’ (28)

July 7, 2024, 11:09 a.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 11:09 a.m. ET

Miranda Rodriguez

Reporting from Corpus Christi, Texas

The weather in Corpus Christi is calm and overcast this morning, with winds of 16 miles per hour. Ahead of the storm, the ferry to Port Aransas will close at noon. The Texas A&M University campus here will also close today.

July 7, 2024, 11:03 a.m. ET

July 7, 2024, 11:03 a.m. ET

John Keefe

Weather Data Editor

Beryl’s eye and its spiraling bands of rain are now visible from U.S.-based radar stations. See more maps, and estimated arrival times of damaging winds, on our tracker page.

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July 5, 2024, 12:08 p.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 12:08 p.m. ET

Austyn Gaffney

How future hurricanes could stress power grids of American cities.

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The risk of hurricane-induced power outages could become 50 percent higher in some areas of the United States, including Puerto Rico, because of climate change in the coming decades, according to a new analysis.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Electric Power Research Institute mapped how future hurricanes could affect power supplies, allowing residents to see how vulnerable their electricity is.

The research comes just after Hurricane Beryl broke records as the earliest Category 4 and 5 storm to form in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm flattened islands in the Caribbean, killed at least eight people and left vulnerable island communities in shambles. On Friday, it made landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula and its projected path suggests it could hit northern Mexico and the Gulf Coast of Texas this weekend.

“These hurricanes can cause really devastating power outages,” said Julian Rice, a data scientist at the national laboratory who helped develop the map. Those outages can have subsequent effects, he said, like reducing access to health care and cutting off power used to heat and cool homes.

The researchers used computers to model almost one million hurricanes under simulated climate scenarios. The models projected factors like humidity, wind and sea surface temperatures under various potential global warming situations between 2066 and 2100.

The Pacific Northwest team then partnered with the power research institute, a nonprofit group focused on electricity research, to pair these mock hurricanes with a power outage model that trained on outage data from 23 hurricanes that affected the United States over the last decade.

The projections suggest that increasingly stronger and wetter storms, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, will make landfall more frequently and push further inland, with tangible effects on the grid. In these scenarios, increased rainfall clogs soil and weighs down tree canopies. Trees can easily uproot or become unstable, falling on power lines or causing landslides that knock out electric infrastructure.

The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coastal areas are predicted to see the zone of potential climate-driven storms and hurricanes shift upward, exposing them more often to the risk of outages. The average person in the metropolitan areas of Boston, Houston and New Orleans could see expected outage events increase more than 70 percent per decade, the analysis found. In Tampa, it’s even higher, and in Miami, residents could see a 119 percent increase.

Hurricanes get a lot of attention from utility companies along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, said Andrea Staid, research leader in energy systems and climate analysis at the Electric Power Research Institute, who helped author the study.

But the analysis could help energy companies plan future improvements, she said. “It motivates them even more because it shows what can happen if we don’t adapt,” Dr. Staid said, “if we don’t take climate considerations into account when planning our energy system.”

Over the last decade, the number of weather-related power outages has almost doubled, according to Climate Central. Most major power outages between 2000 and 2023 were caused by extreme weather, and 14 percent of those were caused by tropical cyclones and hurricanes.

Some of the counties with the highest risk for more frequent power outages — like Broward County, Fla., Wilkinson County, Miss., and Hyde County, N.C. — also have the highest levels of social vulnerability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those counties have demographic and social-economic factors, like poverty and lack of transportation access, that can adversely affect communities that face natural disasters.

Joan Casey, an associate professor of public health at the University of Washington, said power outages amplify risk for people with underlying health conditions. Lack of power can quickly take people that are vulnerable, such as those who use electricity-dependent respirators, from relative safety to a dangerous situation.

The map has limitations. Researchers used the worst-case future climate scenario projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and considered a static infrastructure grid without factoring in potential changes that could harden the power system, like burying lines underground, strengthening poles, or installing community-scale solar.

But Karthik Balaguru, a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researcher and co-creator of the map, pointed out that while it’s a worst-case model, some research suggests that we’re trekking closer to this model than any other by midcentury.

And hurricanes aren’t the only risk. Last week, a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that by 2050, a different climate risk, sea level rise, could expose more than 1,600 critical buildings and services to flooding twice a year, including more than 150 electrical substations.

“It’s a wake-up call that we need to be addressing our power system and making it much more reliable and much more resilient to climate related stresses,” said Kristina Dahl, a principal climate scientist for the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists and a co-author of the report.

Dr. Casey said we could take important steps now to invest in our grid, particularly with solar and battery storage that can provide community-scale power. But that won’t be enough.

“We have to stop burning fossil fuels,” said Dr. Casey. “That’s pretty much the answer.”

Wind and Rain Begin to Pelt Texas Coast Ahead of ‘Deadly Storm’ (2024)

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