Beryl Bears Down On Texas, Where It’s Expected To Hit Monday

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — The outer bands of Beryl brought rain and intensifying winds to Texas on Sunday as coastal residents boarded up windows, left beach towns under evacuation orders and braced for the tropical storm that forecasters expected to strengthen back into a hurricane before landfall.

Much of Texas’ shoreline was under a hurricane warning and landfall was expected early Monday. 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 doors, windows and roofs off homes 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 fom Baffin Bay, south of Corpus Christi, to Sargent, south of Houston.

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.

An oil tanker heads out to open water as surfers take advantage of waves ahead of Hurricane Beryl's arrival in Port Aransas, Texas, Saturday, July 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
An oil tanker heads out to open water as surfers take advantage of waves ahead of Hurricane Beryl’s arrival in Port Aransas, Texas, Saturday, July 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Eric Gay via AP

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.

In 2017 Hurricane Harvey lashed a wide swath of the Gulf Coast with strong winds and torrential rain from the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade, sending tens of thousands of residents fleeing the Gulf Coast.

The storm threatened oil refineries, chemical plants and dangerously flood-prone Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city.

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

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