Tropical storm Beta approaches Texas coast, scientists warn of storm surge, flash flooding and heavy rains
As tropical storm Beta approaches the coast of Texas, scientists have warned of torrential rainfall in Texas and Louisiana, as well as life-threatening storm surge, and flash flooding. Beta is moving west-northwest towards the Texas coast near 6 miles per hour (9 km/hour), and this general motion is forecast to continue for the next day or so, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) advisory issued at 1 am CDT on September 21.
“Beta is expected to produce tropical storm conditions over portions of the Texas coast later this (September 21) morning. The expected slow motion of Beta will produce a long duration rainfall event from the middle Texas coast to southern Louisiana. Flash, urban, and river flooding is likely,” says NHC.
Over 10 million people are said to be under storm warnings. A storm surge warning is currently in effect for Port Aransas in Texas to Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana, including Copano Bay, Aransas Bay, San Antonio Bay, Matagorda Bay, Galveston Bay, Sabine Lake and Lake Calcasieu. Such a warning implies that there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, during the next 36 hours in the indicated locations. The NHC explains that this is a life-threatening situation, and persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions. They have been asked to “promptly follow” evacuation and other instructions from local officials.
“There is the danger of life-threatening storm surge near times of high tide through Tuesday (September 22) along portions of the Texas and Louisiana coasts within the storm surge warning areas. Residents in these areas should follow the advice given by local officials. Tropical-storm-force winds are occurring along portions of the northwestern Gulf Coast within the tropical storm warning area in Louisiana. These winds will spread westward to the Texas coast overnight and Monday,” the advisory reads. It adds, “The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves.”
Through Friday, Beta is expected to produce rainfall of 6 to 12 inches with isolated totals of 15 inches from the middle Texas coast to southern Louisiana. Rainfall totals of 3 to 5 inches are expected northward into the ArkLaTex region and east into the Lower Mississippi Valley. A tornado or two could occur Monday near the middle-to-upper Texas coast or the southwestern Louisiana coast. “The highest surge amounts, of between 3 to 5 feet, are expected between San Luis Pass to Sabine Pass, Texas, including Galveston Bay. Elsewhere, 2 to 4 feet of storm surge is forecast to occur between Port Aransas to San Luis Pass, Texas, including Copano Bay, Aransas Bay, San Antonio Bay, and Matagorda Bay. Surge amounts of 2 to 4 feet are also predicted from Sabine Pass to Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, including Sabine Lake and Calcasieu Lake,” write experts.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for port Aransas in Texas to Morgan City in Louisiana, which means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours. “Tropical storm conditions are possible within the tropical storm watch area along the south Texas coast on Monday,” says the advisory.
At 1 am CDT, the center of Tropical Storm Beta was located near latitude 27.6 North, longitude 94.8 West. A decrease in forward speed and a sharp turn to the north and northeast is expected Monday night and Tuesday. On the forecast track, the center of Beta will continue to move toward the central coast of Texas and will likely move inland by Monday night. It is forecast to remain close to the coast of southeastern Texas on Tuesday, explains the NHC.
Maximum sustained winds are near 60 miles per hour (95 km hour) with higher gusts. Little change in strength is forecast before Beta reaches the Texas coast. Weakening is anticipated once Beta moves inland, say experts. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km) from the center.
“I call on all Texans in the Gulf Coast region to heed the advice of local officials and take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones out of harm's way. Texas is prepared to support communities in the path of the storm, where substantial amounts of rainfall and flash flooding are a significant threat. We will continue to closely monitor the storm and work collaboratively with officials to ensure our fellow Texans are safe,” said Governor Greg Abbott.
In Louisiana, many homeowners and business owners in the potential impact areas are already dealing with recovery from Hurricane Laura. Mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for Cameron Parish. “We understand the threat of severe weather is even more of a risk in some areas at this time. We have started communication with our local partners as the storm approaches the state. GOHSEP’s (Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness) crisis action team remains activated to process any resources for local support. We encourage everyone to stay informed about the changing conditions and forecast. Follow the directions of your local officials to help you make safe decisions for you, your family, and your business,” said a statement issued by Governor John Bel Edwards.