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Beryl headed for Texas, where it's expected to hit after regaining hurricane strength

Visitors pass a restaurant closed in advance of Beryl on Saturday in Port Aransas, Texas.
Eric Gay
/
AP
Visitors pass a restaurant closed in advance of Beryl on Saturday in Port Aransas, Texas.

Updated July 07, 2024 at 05:04 AM ET

HOUSTON (AP) — Beryl was hurtling across the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico on a collision course with Texas, forecast to pick up strength and regain hurricane status before nearing the coast Sunday and making landfall the following day with heavy rains, howling winds and dangerous storm surge.

A hurricane warning was declared for a large stretch of the coast from Baffin Bay, south of Corpus Christi, to Sargent, south of Houston, and storm surge warnings were also in effect. Other parts were under tropical storm warnings.

"We're expecting the storm to make landfall somewhere on the Texas coast sometime Monday, if the current forecast is correct," said Jack Beven, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. "Should that happen, it'll most likely be a Category 1 hurricane."

As of Sunday morning, Beryl was about 245 miles southeast of Corpus Christi and had top sustained winds of 60 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was moving northwest at 12 mph.

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 earlier in the week. It then 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.

Texas officials warned people along the entire coastline to prepare for possible flooding, heavy rain and wind.

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 is a determined storm, and incoming winds and potential flooding will pose a serious threat to Texans who are in Beryl's path at landfall and as it makes its way across the state for the following 24 hours," Patrick said Saturday in a statement.

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.

Mitch Thames, a spokesman for Matagorda County, said officials issued a voluntary evacuation request for the coastal areas of the county about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Houston.

"Our No. 1 goal is the health and safety of all our visitors and of course our residents. I'm not so much worried about our residents. Those folks that live down there, they're used to this, they get it," Thames said.

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 has been nonstop for the past three days at an Ace Hardware in the city as customers buy 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.

"I heard there's been some talk about people having like hurricane parties," he said by telephone.

In Refugio County, north of Corpus Christi, officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for its 6,700 residents.

Copyright 2024 NPR

The Associated Press
[Copyright 2024 NPR]