Tropical Storm Beta puts Texas coasts on alert
An exceptionally active hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday prompted populations along the Texas coasts to prepare for a tropical storm that could take on hurricane strength before making landfall next week.
Both the City of Galveston and Galveston County issued voluntary eviction orders Saturday prior to the arrival of Tropical Storm Beta, as did the city of Seabrook north of Galveston.
Provisional Mayor Craig Brown said in a statement that high waves and up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain are expected to flood several stretches of highway, especially in the west of the city and areas below sea level.
During a news conference Saturday, County Judge Mark Henry said he was concerned that the storm would create more flooding while a mandatory evacuation order is not expected to be issued.
"If they can survive in their homes for three or four days without electricity, which we're not even sure is going to happen, then they are fine," Henry said. "If it's uncomfortable or they need life support equipment, maybe they should go elsewhere."
Tropical Storm Beta forms in the Gulf of Mexico, 510 kilometers (320 miles) east-southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, 395 kilometers (245 miles) south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, according to a warning from the United States National Hurricane Center.
The system is expected to pick up hurricane strength as it approaches Texas on Sunday and Monday. Forecasters issued a tropical storm warning from Port Aransas, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. A torrential rain watch was also issued from Port Aransas, Texas, to High Island, Texas.
Should Beta touch hit the Texas coast, it would be the ninth named storm to make landfall in the continental United States in 2020, matching a record set in 1916, according to Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane expert at Colorado State University. .
In Lake Charles, Louisiana, where thousands of people are still without power more than three weeks after Hurricane Laura hit the coast, authorities are concerned that Beta could cause new showers in the region. Up to 15 centimeters (20 inches) of rain is expected to fall in parts of the area, Donald Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service who is based in Lake Charles, said in a report.
Beta records maximum sustained winds of 95 kph (60 mph) and was not changing its location on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Teddy maintains hurricane strength Saturday, with maximum sustained winds of 195 kph (120 mph) and heading northwest at a speed of 20 kph (13 mph). Teddy is centered 765 kilometers (475 miles) southeast of Bermuda less than a week after Hurricane Paulette struck Britain.
A tropical storm warning went into effect for Bermuda.