Tropical Storm Beryl brings flash flooding and tornadoes, leaves millions without power in Texas (2024)

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/ CBS/AP

Hurricane Beryl hammers Texas coast

Beryl made landfall early Monday morning as a hurricane, slamming into the Gulf Coast of Texas between Galveston and Corpus Christi —just south of Houston— as a tumultuous Category 1 storm.

By Monday afternoon, Beryl was causing flash flooding and tornadoes over eastern Texas and western Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said, warning of "deadly hazards" such as "downed power lines and carbon monoxide poisoning from improper generator use."

Power outages across Texas topped 2.7 million homes and businesses by 4 p.m. local time, according to the tracking sitePowerOutage.us. Around 3,400 flightswere canceled or delayed Monday, many originating or ending in Texas airports, as airlines began feeling the impacts of the hurricane that has now weakened to a tropical storm.

Even after it was downgraded from a hurricane, Beryl continued to tear through Texas with maximum wind speeds near 70 mph, and higher gusts, before dropping to 45 mph as the afternoon progressed. Maximum sustained winds need to be at least 74 mph for a storm to be considered a hurricane.

At least three deaths have been reported in Texas amid the storm — all three were reported in Harris County. The county's Sheriff's Office said Monday morning a man was dead after a tree fell on a home in Atascocita, which is in the Houston area. In a separate incident, Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said a tree fell through the roof of a home, killing a 74-year-old woman.

Storm forecast and impacts

Beryl lashed southeastern Texas with torrential downpours and powerful winds as it moved farther inland in the hours after landfall. But meteorologists said the potential storm surge — forecast to reach 6 feet in some areas — was among the greatest causes for concern.

As of 5 p.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center said flash flooding and tornadoes were ongoing in eastern Texas and western Louisiana. Even after the storm passes, the center urged people to be cautious of "deadly hazards" that could remain.

The hurricane center had said Monday morning that "life-threatening storm surge, damaging winds and flooding rainfall" was spreading over southeastern Texas as Beryl continued tracking northward.

Tropical Storm Beryl brings flash flooding and tornadoes, leaves millions without power in Texas (1)

The hurricane center lifted storm surge and tropical storm warnings that had been in effect for a 255-mile stretch of southeastern coastal Texas, from Port O'Connor to Sabine Pass, including Matagorda Bay and Galveston Bay. Warnings were also lifted for areas between San Luis Pass and Sabine Pass, a stretch of the coast about half as long.

Previous hurricane warnings that had for part of the day extended out from Port O'Connor to Port Bolivar and Mesquite Bay were discontinued.

A tropical storm warning means that weather conditions typically associated with a tropical storm, like powerful winds and rain, are expected within the warning area, according to the hurricane center. The same is true for a storm surge warning, which portends "a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline."

Storm surge was forecast to reach 5 or 6 feet along vast stretches of the Texas coastline, from Matagorda to High Island. Areas from Galveston Bay northward to High Island braced for the most severe inundation, which forecasters warned could be worse if peak surges coincided with high tide.

Reporting from Galveston at 8 a.m., CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca said peak wind gusts of 70 mph had spun up a "nonstop" mix of sand and rain in the coastal city. Villafranca said that had been the case for several hours.

Tropical Storm Beryl brings flash flooding and tornadoes, leaves millions without power in Texas (2)

CBS News senior weather and climate producer David Parkinson said the Houston metropolitan area had been getting drenched with in 2-3 inches of per per hour. He said the area can expect up to a foot of rain and possibly flash floods.

"Heavy rainfall of 5 to 10 inches with localized amounts of 15 inches is expected across portions of the middle and upper Texas Gulf Coast and eastern Texas today into tonight," the hurricane center said. "Considerable flash and urban flooding as well as minor to isolated major river flooding is expected."

Beryl caused flight disruptions Sunday night that had become worse by Monday. United Airlines had the greatest number of cancellations on Monday morning, with 406, according to FlightAware data. The airline told CBS News it was planning to largely suspend flying out of Houston on Monday. American Airlines said it was similarly planning to suspend operations at Houston airports until around 3 p.m. EDT Monday.

Beryl's core is expected tomoveover eastern Texas Monday, then move through the Lower Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday," the hurricane center said. "Steady to rapid weakening is expected as the center moves inland, and Beryl is expected to weaken to a tropical storm later today and to a tropical depression on Tuesday."

Tropical Storm Beryl brings flash flooding and tornadoes, leaves millions without power in Texas (3)

Disaster declaration, closures and evacuations

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is serving as the state's acting governor while Gov. Greg Abbott is traveling overseas, issued a preemptive disaster declaration over the weekend for 121 counties.

Some areas were under mandatory evacuation orders.Refugio County, which is just north of Corpus Christi, ordered a mandatory evacuation on Saturday afternoon. Port Aransas, located on a barrier island in Nueces County just east of Corpus Christi, ordered a mandatory evacuation for all visitors beginning at noon Sunday. All Nueces County residents were also "strongly encouraged" to evacuate as well, county officials said.

Along with some mandatory evacuations, Texas coastal cities called for voluntary evacuations in low-lying areas prone to flooding, banned beach camping and urged tourists traveling on the July 4 holiday weekend to move recreational vehicles from coastal parks.

Tropical Storm Beryl brings flash flooding and tornadoes, leaves millions without power in Texas (4)

The Houston Independent School District announced it was closing all campuses and buildings on Monday and Tuesday due to the storm.

"All summer classes and activities are canceled, and all District activities and events – including professional development and recruiting sessions – are canceled," HISD said in a message to families and staff on Sunday evening.

Beryl's deadly, destructive path

Beryl caused at least 11 deaths as it passed through the Caribbean islands last week. Beryl then hit Tulum, Mexico, as aCategory 2hurricane before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved across the peninsula.

The head of Mexico's civil defense agency, Laura Velázquez, said Beryl hadn't caused any deaths or injuries there and that "damages were minor," though tens of thousands of people remained without power.

Tropical Storm Beryl brings flash flooding and tornadoes, leaves millions without power in Texas (5)

Tulum was plunged into darkness when the storm knocked out power as it came ashore. Screeching winds set off car alarms across the town. Wind and rain continued to whip the seaside city and surrounding areas Friday morning. Army brigades roved the streets of the tourist city, clearing fallen trees and power lines.

Tropical Storm Beryl brings flash flooding and tornadoes, leaves millions without power in Texas (6)

Although no dead or wounded have been reported, nearly half of Tulum continued to be without electricity, said Laura Velázquez, national coordinator of Mexican Civil Protection.

Before hitting Mexico and moving into the Gulf, Beryl had spread destruction in Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados. Three people have been reported dead in Grenada, three in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, three in Venezuela and two in Jamaica, officials said.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness promised swift relief for residents affected by Hurricane Beryl after visiting one of the worst-affected areas of the island, the southern parish of St Elizabeth on Thursday afternoon.

Tropical Storm Beryl brings flash flooding and tornadoes, leaves millions without power in Texas (7)

Earlier in the week, the hurricane damaged or destroyed 95% of homes on a pair of islands in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, jumbled fishing boats in Barbados and ripped off roofs and knocked out electricity in Jamaica.

On Union Island, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a man who identified himself as Captain Baga described the storm's impact, including how he had filled two 2,000-gallon rubber water tanks in preparation.

"I strapped them down securely on six sides; and I watched the wind lift those tanks and take them away — filled with water," he said Thursday. "I'm a sailor and I never believed wind could do what I saw it do. If anyone (had) ever told me wind could do that, I would have told them they lie!"

Historic hurricane

Beryl was the earliest storm to developinto a Category 5 hurricanein the Atlantic, and was only the second Category 5 storm recorded in July since 2005, according to the hurricane center.

It took Beryl only 42 hours to strengthen from a tropical depression to a major hurricane, which is aCategory 3 storm or higher— a feat accomplished only six other times in Atlantic hurricane history, and with Sept. 1 as the earliest date, according to hurricane expert Sam Lillo.

Beryl was also the third Category 3 hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic in June, following Audrey in 1957 and Alma in 1966, hurricane specialist and storm surge expert Michael Lowry said.

"Beryl is an extremely dangerous and rare hurricane for this time of year in this area," he told the AP in a phone interview. "Unusual is an understatement," he said, calling Beryl historic.

Hurricane Ivan in 2004 was the last strongest hurricane to hit the southeast Caribbean, causing catastrophic damage in Grenada as a Category 3 storm.

Beryl is the second named storm in what is predicted to be a busy hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 in the Atlantic. Warm waters fueled Beryl, with ocean heat content in the deep Atlantic the highest on record for this time of year, according to Brian McNoldy, University of Miami tropical meteorology researcher.

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Tropical Storm Beryl brings flash flooding and tornadoes, leaves millions without power in Texas (2024)
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