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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

‘Deadly storm’ expected to strengthen as it nears the Texas coast

A photo provided by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration shows the view from a research aircraft nicknamed Miss Piggy during a flight through the eye of Hurricane Beryl on Tuesday, July 2, 2024. (NOAA via The New York Times)

By Edgar Sandoval, Miranda Rodríguez and María Jiménez Moya

Officials warned that not enough people were leaving the Texas coast before an expected landfall from a Category 1 hurricane, as forecasters cautioned that Beryl could intensify even more than predicted before arriving early Monday — as it did when tearing through the Caribbean last week, killing at least 11.

“It will be a deadly storm for people who are directly in that path,” said Dan Patrick, the state’s lieutenant governor, at a Sunday afternoon news briefing. He said traffic data showed that roads were relatively clear, and worried that beach vacationers weren’t aware of the danger approaching.

Here are the key things to know:

The forecast: Beryl had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph on Sunday afternoon, making it a tropical storm. It was expected to strengthen before landfall somewhere between Galveston and Corpus Christi, and to bring damaging winds, life-threatening storm surge and up to 15 inches of rain, according to the National Hurricane Center. More than 1 million people across Texas were under a hurricane warning.

Texas makes preparations: State officials issued a disaster declaration for 121 counties, which enables state resources to assist in local preparation and recovery efforts. The Texas Division of Emergency Management has also readied the National Guard, search-and-rescue teams, and other emergency responders.

The storm’s impact so far: Before reaching the Gulf of Mexico, Beryl plowed through the Caribbean, flattening islands, inundating communities and becoming the first hurricane to reach Category 5 status this early in the season. It made landfall twice last week — once in Carriacou, a small island north of Grenada, and then in Mexico. In the wake of the storm, Caribbean leaders have already called for more action on climate change from Western countries.

Climate change’s role: Researchers have found that climate change has increased the frequency of major hurricanes, because warmer ocean temperatures provide more energy that fuels these storms. 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, forecasters say.

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