World

Texas coast braces for Beryl with storm expected to regain hurricane strength

The storm had caused widespread damage in the Caribbean, with several people having been killed.

Texas officials urged coastal residents to prepare (NOAA via AP)
Texas officials urged coastal residents to prepare (NOAA via AP) (AP)

Texas officials are urging coastal residents to brace for a potential hit by Beryl with the storm expected to regain hurricane strength in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Jack Beven, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, said: “We’re expecting the storm to make landfall somewhere on the Texas coast sometime Monday, if the current forecast is correct.

“Should that happen, it’ll most likely be a category one hurricane.”

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 islands earlier in the week.

Parts of the Caribbean including Jamaica were wrecked by the storm
Parts of the Caribbean including Jamaica were wrecked by the storm (Collin Reid/AP)

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.

The US National Hurricane Centre predicts that Beryl will intensify before making landfall, prompting expanded hurricane and storm surge watches.

Mr Beven said a hurricane warning is expected to be issued on Sunday.

The storm will bring a dangerous storm surge – flooding portions of the Texas coast – as well as hurricane-force winds to a small area and tropical storm conditions with heavy rains to much of the rest of the Texas coast, he said.

“There is an increasing risk of damaging hurricane-force winds and life-threatening storm surge in portions of north-eastern Mexico and the lower and middle Texas coast late Sunday and Monday,” the centre warned.

Texas officials warned the state’s entire coastline to brace for possible flooding, heavy rain and wind as they wait for a more defined path of the storm.

The hurricane centre has issued hurricane and storm surge watches for the Texas coast from the mouth of the Rio Grande north to San Luis Pass, less than 80 miles south of Houston.

On Saturday, Beryl was about 460 miles south-east of Corpus Christi and had top sustained winds of 60mph, according to the National Hurricane Centre. It was moving west-north-west at 12mph.

Texas’s acting governor Dan Patrick, who is filling in for Greg Abbott as he travels in Taiwan, issued a pre-emptive disaster declaration for 40 counties.

Some Texas coastal cities called for voluntary evacuations in low-lying areas prone to flooding, banned beach camping and urged tourists traveling on the July 4 holiday weekend to move recreational vehicles from coastal parks.

Beryl already spread destruction in Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados this week. Three people have been reported dead in Grenada, three in St Vincent and the Grenadines, three in Venezuela and two in Jamaica, officials said.

It is feared Beryl will strengthen into a hurricane (AP)
It is feared Beryl will strengthen into a hurricane (AP) (Lucanus Ollivierre/AP)

Mexican authorities had moved some tourists and residents out of low-lying areas around the Yucatan Peninsula before landfall, but tens of thousands remained to tough out the strong winds and storm surge. Much of the area around Tulum is just a few yards above sea level.

The city was plunged into darkness when the storm knocked out power as it came ashore. Screeching winds set off car alarms across the town. Wind and rain continued to whip the seaside city and surrounding areas on Friday morning. Army brigades roved the streets of the tourist city, clearing fallen trees and power lines.

Although no dead or wounded have been reported, nearly half of Tulum continued to be without electricity, according to Laura Velazquez, national coordinator of Mexican Civil Protection.