Natural Disasters

Tropical Storm Beryl Threatens Mexico and Texas With Potential Hurricane-Force Winds and Heavy Rain

Main image to the post Tropical Storm Beryl Threatens Mexico and Texas With Potential Hurricane-Force Winds and Heavy Rain

Tropical Storm Beryl moved out of the Yucatán Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday night. Forecasters predict it will take a path toward Mexico and southern Texas, regaining hurricane strength along the way.

The storm, which was a Category 4 hurricane when it devastated parts of the Caribbean island nations of Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, had weakened to a Category 2 by the time it made landfall on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula on Friday.

Beryl is forecast to approach the Texas coast by late Sunday, the hurricane center said.

A hurricane watch was issued Friday for part of the Texas Gulf Coast, from the mouth of the Rio Grande River to San Luis Pass south of Galveston, which covers around 280 miles and includes the city of Corpus Christi. A storm surge watch covered the same area but extended to High Island.

Most of that Texas coast faced the possibility of a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet, the National Hurricane Center said. The stretch from Baffin Bay to the Rio Grande was forecast to see between 2 and 4 feet.

A severe weather disaster declaration has been issued for 40 Texas counties due to possible impacts from the storm. The declaration allows additional aid if needed.

The city of Corpus Christi and the south Texas resort town of South Padre Island were among the coastal communities distributing sandbags. Corpus Christi Mayor Paulette Guajardo said the entire state is encouraged to prepare for Beryl to make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane, potentially along the Coastal Bend late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

Guajardo encouraged residents to stay informed and prepare for tropical storm force winds to impact the area as early as Sunday afternoon.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday that he will deploy nine of the state's firefighters to help staff the Federal Emergency Management Agency's "Incident Support Team" ahead of Beryl's arrival to southern Texas.

The hurricane is blamed for nine deaths in Venezuela, Jamaica, and the Windward Island nations of Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It caused severe damage to many homes in Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, officials there said.

Beryl's formation and strength set records. Scientists say the process of rapid intensification is becoming more common as climate change increases sea surface temperatures.

It was the first Category 4 hurricane on record to form in June and the earliest Category 4 storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. Before Beryl, Hurricane Dennis was the earliest, having formed on July 8, 2005.

When Beryl strengthened to a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 165 mph this week, it became the strongest hurricane ever recorded in July.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09