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Beryl is set to gain hurricane strength as it bears down on the Texas coast

Dane Allen and Randy Davis board up apartments on Sunday ahead of Beryl's arrival in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Brandon Bell
/
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Dane Allen and Randy Davis board up apartments on Sunday ahead of Beryl's arrival in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Updated July 07, 2024 at 20:55 PM ET

Beryl is set to make landfall early Monday morning along the Texas coast as the storm regains hurricane-level strength in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Weather Service. On Sunday, rains and winds from the storm's outer reaches bore down on Texas' southeast coast and left beach towns under evacuation orders.

Communities from Corpus Christi to Galveston Island to Houston are facing severe weather watches and warnings urging residents to prepare for 60 to 80 mph winds, power outages and flooding.

"We are expecting Beryl to be intensifying up until landfall early Monday, and people should be preparing for the possibility of a category 2 hurricane landfall," Eric Blake, a senior hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center, said in an advisory Sunday. "There is a danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation along the coast of Texas. Residents in those areas should follow any advice given by local officials and follow evacuation orders."

Beryl — the earliest Atlantic storm in a calendar year to become a Category 5 hurricane — left at least 11 people dead as it tore through the Caribbean last week. As the storm moves toward Texas, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick put 121 counties under the state's Hurricane Beryl Disaster Declaration.

"It will be a deadly storm for people who are directly in that path," Patrick said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. "Property can be rebuilt, but lives cannot be."

The lieutenant governor also shared his worries about tourists visiting for the July Fourth holiday not being aware of how dangerous Beryl will be. "We've looked at all of the roads leaving the coast, and the maps are still green. So we don't see many people leaving. If you're moving, today is the day," he said.

Director of the Texas Division of Emergency Management Nim Kidd echoed Patrick in pleading with the public to take it seriously.

"There will be inland flooding, and what we find is this freshwater inland flooding tends to be more of a killer of our citizens than the actual storm surge," Kidd said. "So please, please do not drive through water. Turn around. Don't drown."

In the coastal city of Aransas Pass, Texas, Johnny Guerra told NPR that while some are fleeing the storm, he's going to hunker down.

“[I] put up some boards, moved everything that might blow away indoors, in storage. Plants are inside," Guerra said. "Everything is taken care of."

In anticipation of the storm, the city of Galveston closed all city facilities on Monday. And the White House said Sunday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency sent emergency responders and resources to communities along the coast.

The record-breaking storm started as a relatively weak tropical depression in late June, but over just 48 hours it surged into a major hurricane that ripped through the Caribbean and the Yucatan Peninsula this past week. Beryl then weakened into a tropical storm, but it now regains energy as it heads toward Texas.

It's the sort of extreme meteorological activity scientists now expect with a rapidly warming planet due to climate change.

“In terms of the science, it’s unfortunately kind of right in line with what we expect when we’re warming the planet and we’re warming our oceans, especially,” Andra Garner, a hurricane expert at Rowan University in New Jersey, told NPR last week. “When we’re warming the planet with our fossil-fuel emissions, we’re making it more likely that we have those warm ocean waters that can allow a storm like Beryl to really develop and intensify quickly.”

Residents along Texas' Gulf Coast remember Hurricane Harvey, which hit the area hard in 2017 as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm devastated the region with catastrophic flooding — killing at least 68 people in Texas.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Luke Garrett
Luke Garrett is an Elections Associate Producer at NPR News.