Texas coastal residents told to expect power outages, flooding as Beryl moves closer to landfall


MATAGORDA, Texas (AP) — Texas officials are telling coastal residents to expect power outages and floodings as Beryl was forecast to regain hurricane strength before making landfall early Monday.

The outer bands of Beryl began lashing communities along the Texas shoreline on Sunday, bringing rain and intensifying winds. The storm was projected to make landfall around the coastal town of Matagorda, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) south of Houston, but officials warned that the path could still change.

Nim Kidd, the chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said residents along the coast should expect power outages as Beryl comes ashore.

Much of Texas’ shoreline was under a hurricane warning and officials in several coastal counties urged tourists along the beach for the Fourth of the July holiday to leave.

The earliest storm to develop into a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic, Beryl caused at least 11 deaths as it passed through the Caribbean on its way to Texas. The storm ripped off doors, windows and roofs with devastating winds and storm surge fueled by the Atlantic’s record warmth.

“We’re seeing the outer bands of Beryl approach the Texas coast now and the weather should be going downhill especially this afternoon and evening,” Eric Blake, a senior hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center, said Sunday morning. “People should definitely be in their safe space by nightfall and we’re expecting the hurricane to make landfall somewhere in the middle Texas coast overnight.”

Beryl would be the 10th hurricane to hit Texas in July since 1851 and the fourth in the last 25 years, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

Three times in its one week of life, Beryl has gained 35 mph in wind speed in 24 hours or less, the official weather service definition of rapid intensification.

Beryl’s explosive growth into an unprecedented early whopper of a storm shows the literal hot water of the Atlantic and Caribbean, and what the Atlantic hurricane belt can expect for the rest of the storm season, experts said.

Texas officials warned people along the entire coastline to prepare for possible flooding, heavy rain and wind. The hurricane warning extended from Baffin Bay, south of Corpus Christi, to Sargent, south of Houston.

Beryl lurked as another potential heavy rain event for Houston, where storms in recent months have knocked out power across the nation’s fourth-largest city and flooded neighborhoods. A flash flood watch was in effect for a wide swath of the Texas coast, where forecasters expected Beryl to dump as much as 10 inches of rain in some areas.

Potential storm surges between 4 and 6 feet above ground level were forecast around Matagorda. The warnings extended to the same coastal areas where Hurricane Harvey came ashore in 2017 as a Category 4 hurricane, which was far more powerful than Beryl’s expected intensity by the time the storm reaches landfall.

In Port Lavaca, Jimmy May was boarding up his business Jimmy Hayes Electric on Sunday to protect the glass, “in case we get a little bit too much wind, too much trash blowing,” he said. He said he wasn’t concerned about the forecasted high winds or possible storm surge in town but people in lower-lying areas “need to get out of there.”

Those looking to catch a flight out of the area could find that option more difficult as Beryl closes in on the Texas coast. While the majority of flights from Houston’s two major commercial airports were leaving on time as of midday Sunday, more than 65 flights had been delayed and another four canceled, according to FlightAware data.

In Corpus Christi, officials asked visitors to cut their trips short and return home early if possible. Residents were advised to secure homes by boarding up windows if necessary and using sandbags to guard against possible flooding.

Traffic was nonstop for the past three days at an Ace Hardware in the city as customers bought tarps, rope, duct tape, sandbags and generators, employee Elizabeth Landry said Saturday.

“They’re just worried about the wind, the rain,” she said. “They’re wanting to prepare just in case.”

Ben Koutsoumbaris, general manager of Island Market on Corpus Christi’s Padre Island, said there has been “definitely a lot of buzz about the incoming storm,” with customers stocking up on food and drinks, particularly meat and beer.

The White House said Sunday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had sent emergency responders, search-and-rescue teams, bottled water, and other resources along the coast.

Some coastal cities called for voluntary evacuations in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding, banned beach camping and urged tourists traveling on the Fourth of July holiday weekend to move recreational vehicles from coastal parks. In Refugio County, north of Corpus Christi, officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for its 6,700 residents.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is acting governor while Gov. Greg Abbott is traveling in Taiwan, issued a preemptive disaster declaration for 121 counties.

Beryl earlier this week battered Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane, toppling trees but causing no injuries or deaths before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula.

Before hitting Mexico, Beryl wrought destruction in Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados. Three people were reported dead in Grenada, three in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, three in Venezuela and two in Jamaica.

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Lozano reported from Houston. Associated Press writer Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska, and radio reporter Julie Walker in New York contributed.

Mark Vancleave And Juan Lozano, The Associated Press



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