Tropical Storm Beta headed towards the coasts of Texas and Louisiana on Sunday, threatening to bring more rain, wind and pressure to a part of the country already inundated and hit during the unusually busy hurricane season this year.
The National Weather Service said Sunday that while Beta could bring up to 20 inches (51 cm) of rain to some areas of Texas and Louisiana over the next few days, it was no longer expected to reach hurricane intensity. The National Hurricane Center said Beta was moving faster on Sunday afternoon and was scheduled to make landfall along the central or upper Texas coast of the Gulf late Monday night. It was then expected to move northeast along the coast and head to Louisiana sometime in the middle of the week, with the downpours as an even bigger threat.
Meteorologists said Beta is not expected to bring as much rain as Texas experienced during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 or Tropical Storm Imelda last year. Harvey dumped more than 50 inches (127 cm) of rain on Houston and caused $ 125 billion in damage in Texas. Imelda, which struck southeast Texas, was one of the wetest hurricanes on record.
The first rain ranges from Beta reached the Texas coast Sunday, but heavy rains were not expected until Monday through Tuesday.
In Lower Galveston, which has seen more than its share of tropical weather over the years, officials did not expect to issue a mandatory evacuation order, but did advise people to get supplies ready in case they had to stay home for several days if roads flooded. The coastal city located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Houston can experience up to 15 inches (38 cm) of rain.
“We’re not incredibly anxious,” said Nancy Kitchu, a Galveston resident. Kitcho, 49, and her family were evacuated last month when forecasts indicated that Hurricane Laura could make landfall near Galveston, but they are planning to buy supplies and wait for a home. Bora ended up making landfall in neighboring Louisiana.
Kichio, whose home is 18 feet above the ground on stilts, said she expected her street to be clear as water from high tide flooded neighboring roads on Sunday.
“That was definitely more stressful, this hurricane season,” she said.
Galveston, with a population of about 50,000, was the site of the deadliest hurricane in US history, a storm in 1900 that killed an estimated 6,000 people. The city was also hit hard in 2008 by Hurricane Ike, which caused nearly $ 30 billion in damage. Kitcheo’s former home was badly damaged during Ike and had to be demolished.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Beta was moving slowly across the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday afternoon, 120 miles (225 kilometers) southeast of Galveston. The storm had maximum winds of 60 mph (95 km / h) and was moving from west to northwest at 6 mph (10 km / h).
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Sunday that while a house is not expected to bring rain like Harvey, he has warned residents against a “weather alert.”
“Be aware of the weather because things can change. This is the year 2020 and so we have to expect the unexpected,” adding that the city expects to activate the emergency center on Monday.
In Victoria County, about 120 miles southwest of Houston, officials have asked residents to prepare for up to 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 cm) of rain.
“As with any event, panic is never helpful or necessary, but preparation is, and now is the time to finalize those plans,” said County Judge Ben Zeller, Victoria County’s top elected official.
Beta is expected to cause heavy rain in the southwestern corner of Louisiana, three weeks after the same area was hit by Hurricane Laura. Meteorologist Donald Jones of the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, Louisiana, said that more than 41,000 homes and businesses are still without electricity, and they could add a home to that number by dropping trees left by the previous storm. Storm debris from Laura Clogging of trenches in heavily affected areas such as Lake Charles can increase the risk of flooding.
Beta was one of three named storms swirling in the Atlantic Basin during an exceptionally busy hurricane season. If the system made landfall in Texas, it would be the ninth named storm to make landfall in the continental United States in 2020. That would set a record in 1916, according to Colorado state researcher in Hurricane Phil Klotzbach.
Meteorologists ran out of traditional storm names on Friday, forcing them to use the Greek alphabet for only the second time since the 1950s.
The stretch of the Gulf Coast was from Port Aransas, Texas, about 165 miles (265 kilometers) southwest of Galveston, to Morgan City, Louisiana, 80 miles (128 kilometers) west of New Orleans, under warning of a tropical storm on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Teddy remained a powerful hurricane on Sunday, with maximum winds of 105 mph (165 km / h) moving north.