Tropical storm Beta spurs hurricane fears in Texas


An exceptionally busy Atlantic hurricane season was churning along Saturday as the Texas coast prepared for a tropical storm that’s forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before breaching its shores in the week ahead.

Both the city of Galveston and Galveston County on Saturday issued voluntary evacuation orders ahead of tropical storm Beta.

Mayor Pro Tem Craig Brown said in a statement that high tides and up to 25 centimetres of expected rainfall would leave roads impassable, especially along the city’s west end and low-lying areas.

County Judge Mark Henry said during a Saturday news conference that his concern is also based on rising waters creating a storm surge and that a mandatory evacuation is not expected.

“If you can survive in your home for three or four days without power and electricity, which we’re not even sure that’s going to happen, you’re OK,” Henry said. “If it’s uncomfortable or you need life support equipment, maybe go somewhere else.”

People wade through tidewaters in Galveston, Texas, on Saturday. (Stuart Villanueva/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Tropical storm Beta was brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, 495 kilometres east-southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, and 395 kilometres south of Lake Charles, La., the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. The system was forecast to become a hurricane on Sunday and triggered a tropical storm warning from Port Aransas, Texas, to Intracoastal City, La.

In Lake Charles, La., where thousands of people remain without power more than three weeks after Hurricane Laura slammed into the coast, there are concerns that Beta could super-soak the region once again. Up to 15 centimetres is possible in some parts of the area, Donald Jones, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Lake Charles, said in a Saturday briefing.

“A lot of people have been saying, `Is this going to be like Harvey? Is this going to be like Imelda?'” Jones said. “We’re not talking about rainfall totals yet that are on the orders of magnitude that we saw with that.”

Imelda, which struck southeast Texas in 2019, was one of the wettest cyclones on record. Harvey dumped more than 127 cm of rain on Houston in 2017.

However, if the storm ends up moving a bit slower than what’s being forecast now, rainfall totals could be even higher than 50 cm, Jones said.

“Harvey was a very specific and unique event, but we are talking about the same idea in terms of very heavy, heavy rainfall,” he said.

Beta had maximum sustained winds at 95 km/h and was moving northwest at three km/h.

Forecasters were predicting up to 1.2 metres of storm surge along parts of the Texas coast that included Baffin Bay, Corpus Christi Bay, Galveston Bay and others. Wind, heavy rainfall and life-threatening surf and rip current conditions were also expected with the storm.

Forecasters ran out of traditional storm names on Friday, forcing the use of the Greek alphabet for only the second time since the 1950s.

Hurricane Teddy could reach Nova Scotia

Meanwhile, Hurricane Teddy remained a powerful hurricane on Saturday, with maximum sustained winds at 195 km/h and moving northwest at 22 km/h. Teddy was centred 825 kilometres southeast of Bermuda less than a week after Hurricane Paulette made landfall in the wealthy British territory.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for Bermuda. Large swells from Teddy were forecast to impact the Lesser Antilles, the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast.

According to Environment Canada, Teddy is currently a Category 3 and is expected to slowly advance north over the next two days, passing east of Bermuda on Monday. That is when it will begin to accelerate toward Nova Scotia. It could reach the waters south of Nova Scotia on Tuesday as a Category 2 hurricane.

WATCH | How Nova Scotia is preparing for Hurricane Teddy:

Nova Scotia Power describes their plans for the upcoming hurricane set to hit N.S. on Tuesday 2:25

Parts of the Alabama coast and Florida Panhandle were still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Sally, which roared ashore on Wednesday. At least two deaths were blamed on the system, and hundreds of thousands of people were still without power late Friday.

Misty Rae and Drew Ruthrauff were celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary as they cleaned up the damage at their Navarre, Fla., home. Everything in the couple’s garage was destroyed, including their jeep and boxes of childhood memorabilia.

“It’s not really how we thought we were going to spend [our anniversary], but we’re together and we’re happy still,” Drew Ruthrauff told the Pensacola News-Journal. “We’re gonna get through this together and be better for it.”



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