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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Beryl moves away from Houston, leaving flooding, power outages in its wake

A downed tree on utility lines in a yard with a “yard of the month” sign following Tropical Storm Beryl in Sugar Land, Texas, July 8, 2024. Strong winds and torrential rains from Tropical Storm Beryl battered Houston and its suburbs on Monday morning, flooding streets and knocking out power for more than two million customers in Texas. At least two people were killed. (Jordan Vonderhaar/The New York Times)

By J. David Goodman

Skies began to clear, but gusts continued to blow as Tropical Storm Beryl moved north of Houston on Monday afternoon, bringing heavy rain and tornado warnings farther inland. The storm lashed the city and its suburbs with strong winds and torrential rains, flooding streets and highways and knocking out power to more than 2.7 million customers in Texas.

Officials and residents in the nation’s fourth-largest metro area began assessing the damage and recovering from the storm’s impact. The winds had been stronger than expected, officials said, leaving the roadways blocked in many places by trees and other debris.

At least two people were killed in of their homes by falling trees north of downtown Houston, officials said, including a 74-year-old woman. “We have a lot to do when we assess things in future days,” Mayor John Whitmire of Houston said at a late-morning news conference.

Here’s what to know:

— The forecast: Beryl, which made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just before 4 a.m. in Matagorda, Texas, had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph as of noon local time, according to the National Hurricane Center. Its center was about 55 miles north of Houston, and half a dozen tornado warnings were issued for parts of eastern Texas and western Louisiana.

— The impact in Houston so far: Beryl’s deadly force cut down trees across the city and dumped so much rain that sections of highways were transformed into rivers. At least eight people had been rescued from high water, a top police official said.

— The damage elsewhere: Beryl tore a deadly path across the Caribbean, killing at least 11 people as it flattened islands, inundated communities and became the first hurricane to reach Category 5 status this early in the season.

— Climate’s role: Researchers have found that climate change has increased the frequency of major hurricanes. It is also making hurricanes intensify faster and produce more rain with a higher storm surge. Beryl’s quick escalation to a major hurricane is a bad sign for the rest of the season.

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