Beryl regains hurricane strength as it bears down on Texas coast

Beryl strengthened and again became a hurricane late Sunday as it heads toward southern Texas, where the storm’s outer bands lashed the coast with rain and intensifying winds as residents prepared for the powerful storm that already cut a deadly path through parts of Mexico and the Caribbean.

The National Hurricane Center issued an update at 1 a.m. Central Standard Time placing the storm about 30 miles southeast of Matagorda, Texas, and about 95 miles northeast of Corpus Christi.

The hurricane’s top sustained winds were 80 mph as the storm moves northwest at 10 mph.

The National Hurricane Center issued an update at 1 a.m. Central Standard Time placing the storm about 30 miles southeast of Matagorda, Texas, and about 95 miles northeast of Corpus Christi. NOAA

A hurricane warning is in effect for the Texas coast from Mesquite Bay north to Port Bolivar, the center said.

People on the Texas coast boarded up windows and left beach towns under evacuation order.

The storm was projected to come ashore early Monday in the middle of the Texas coast around Matagorda Bay, an area about 100 miles south of Houston, but officials cautioned the path could still change.

As the storm neared the coast, Texas officials warned Sunday it could cause power outages and flooding but also expressed worry that not enough residents and beach vacationers in Beryl’s path had heeded warnings to leave.

“One of the things that kind of trigger our concern a little bit, we’ve looked at all of the roads leaving the coast and the maps are still green,” said Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is serving as the state’s acting governor while Gov. Greg Abbott is traveling overseas. “So we don’t see many people leaving.”

A group of men board up a restaurant in Port Lavaca, Texas, on July 7, 2024, as they prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Beryl. AFP via Getty Images

Tropical storm winds extended 115 miles from the center and the hurricane center warned residents to be prepared for possible flash flooding in parts of middle, upper and eastern Texas as well as Arkansas as the storm gradually turns to the north and then northeast later Monday.

Along the Texas coast, many residents and business owners took the typical storm precautions but also expressed uncertainty about the storm’s intensity.

In Port Lavaca, Jimmy May fastened plywood over the windows of his electrical supply company and said he wasn’t concerned about the possible storm surge.

He recalled his business had escaped flooding in a previous hurricane that brought a 20-foot storm surge.

The storm was projected to come ashore early Monday in the middle of the Texas coast around Matagorda Bay, an area about 100 miles south of Houston, but officials cautioned the path could still change. NOAA/NESDIS/STAR GOES-East / USA TODAY NETWORK

“In town, you know, if you’re in the low-lying areas, obviously, you need to get out of there,” he said.

At the nearby marina, Percy Roberts showed his neighbor Ken Waller how to properly secure his boat as heavy winds rolled in from the bay Sunday evening.

“This is actually going to be the first hurricane I’m going to be experiencing,” Waller said, noting he is a little nervous but feels safe following Roberts’ lead. “Pray for the best but expect the worst, I guess.”

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.

Three times during its one week of life, Beryl has gained 35 mph (56 kph) 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 indicates the 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.

Residents Mohammad Tanjwani, wife Danielle, and their one-year-old daughter Capri gather supplies as they prepare to hunker down at a hotel ahead of Hurricane Beryl in Surfside Beach, Texas, on July 7, 2024. REUTERS

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 7 feet above ground level were forecast around Matagorda.

Kiteboarder Kuba Krzycki stands on the shore and watches kitesurfers in Oso Bay as the outer edge of Hurricane Beryl moves into Corpus Christi on Sunday afternoon. Caller Times-USA TODAY NETWORK

The warnings extended to the same coastal areas where Hurricane Harvey came ashore in 2017 as a Category 4 hurricane, far more powerful than Beryl’s expected intensity by the time the storm reaches landfall.

Those looking to catch a flight out of the area found a closing window for air travel as Beryl moved closer. Hundreds of flights from Houston’s two major commercial airports were delayed by midafternoon Sunday and dozens more 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.

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.

Several coastal counties called for voluntary evacuations in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding.

Rain and swells from Hurricane Beryl approach homes along Surfside Beach, Texas, on July 7, 2024. REUTERS

Local officials also banned beach camping and urged tourists traveling on the Fourth of July holiday weekend to move recreational vehicles from coastal parks.

Beryl battered Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane last week, 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, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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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