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Texas residents told to expect power outages, flooding as Beryl moves closer to landfall

Visitors pass a restaurant closed in advance of Beryl, Saturday, July 6, 2024, in Port Aransas, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)(AP/Eric Gay)

MATAGORDA, Texas (AP) 鈥 Beryl began lashing coastal Texas with rain and intensifying winds Sunday as residents boarded up windows, left beach towns under evacuation orders and prepared for the powerful storm that has already cut a deadly path through parts of and .

Beryl remained a tropical storm late Sunday as it churned toward the middle Texas coast but was expected to regain hurricane strength in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall early Monday, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm was projected to come ashore around Matagorda Bay, an area about 100 miles (161 kilometers) south of Houston.

Tropical storm winds extended 115 miles (185 kilometers) from the center, and the hurricane center warned residents to be prepared for possible flash flooding in parts of middle, upper and eastern Texas as well as Arkansas as the storm gradually turns to the north and then northeast later Monday.

Texas officials warned the storm would cause power outages and flooding but also expressed worry that not enough coastal residents and beach vacationers in Beryl’s path were heeding warnings to leave.

鈥淥ne of the things that kind of trigger our concern a little bit, we鈥檝e looked at all of the roads leaving the coast and the maps are still green,鈥 said Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is serving as the state’s acting governor while Gov. Greg Abbott is travelling overseas. 鈥淪o we don鈥檛 see many people leaving.鈥

Along the Texas coast, many residents and business owners took the typical storm precautions, but also expressed uncertainty about the storm’s intensity.

In Port Lavaca, Jimmy May fastened plywood over the windows of his electrical supply company and said he wasn鈥檛 concerned about the possible storm surge. He recalled that his business had escaped flooding in a previous hurricane that brought a 20-foot (6-meter) storm surge.

鈥淚n town, you know, if you鈥檙e in the low-lying areas, obviously, you need to get out of there,鈥 he said.

At the nearby marina, Percy Roberts showed his neighbor Ken Waller how to properly secure his boat as heavy winds rolled in from the bay Sunday evening.

鈥淭his is actually going to be the first hurricane I’m going to be experiencing,鈥 Waller said, noting that he’s a little nervous but feels safe following Roberts’ lead. 鈥淧ray for the best but expect the worst, I guess.鈥

Farther down the coast in Freeport, Mark Richardson, a 64-year-old retiree, said homeowners were busy 鈥渢rying to tie everything down鈥 and worried that Beryl had people unsure about where along the Texas coast it would make landfall. He spent Sunday morning on the beach and said ocean swells were quickly rising.

鈥淭he ocean is getting very angry, very fast,鈥 he said.

The earliest storm to develop into a in the Atlantic, Beryl caused at least 11 deaths as it passed through the Caribbean on its way to Texas. The storm ripped off doors, windows and roofs with devastating winds and storm surge fueled by .

Three times in its one week of life, Beryl has gained 35 mph (56 kph) in wind speed in 24 hours or less, the official weather service definition of rapid intensification.

Beryl鈥檚 explosive growth into an unprecedented early whopper of a storm shows the of the Atlantic and Caribbean, and what the Atlantic hurricane belt can expect for the rest of the storm season, experts said.

Texas officials warned people along the entire coastline to prepare for possible flooding, heavy rain and wind. The hurricane warning extended from Baffin Bay, south of Corpus Christi, to Sargent, south of Houston.

Beryl lurked as another potential heavy rain event for Houston, where storms in recent months have across the nation鈥檚 fourth-largest city and . A flash flood watch was in effect for a wide swath of the Texas coast, where forecasters expected Beryl to dump as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain in some areas.

Potential storm surges between 4 and 7 feet (1.22 and 2.13 meters) above ground level were forecast around Matagorda. The warnings extended to the same coastal areas where came ashore in 2017 as a Category 4 hurricane, far more powerful than Beryl鈥檚 expected intensity by the time the storm reaches landfall.

Those looking to catch a flight out of the area could find that option all but impossible as Beryl closed in. Hundreds of flights from Houston’s two major commercial airports had been delayed by midafternoon Sunday and dozens more canceled, according to FlightAware data.

In Corpus Christi, officials asked visitors to cut their trips short and return home early if possible. Residents were advised to secure homes by boarding up windows if necessary and using sandbags to guard against possible flooding.

The White House said Sunday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had sent emergency responders, search-and-rescue teams, bottled water, and other resources along the coast.

Several coastal counties called for voluntary evacuations in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding. Local officials also banned beach camping and urged tourists traveling on the Fourth of July holiday weekend to move recreational vehicles from coastal parks.

Beryl earlier this week battered Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane, toppling trees but causing no injuries or deaths before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula.

Before hitting Mexico, Beryl wrought destruction in Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados. Three people were reported dead in Grenada, three in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, three in Venezuela and two in Jamaica.

Beryl would be the 10th hurricane to hit Texas in July since 1851 and the fourth in the last 25 years, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

___

Gonzalez reported from McAllen, Texas. Associated Press reporters Margery A. Beck in Omaha, Nebraska, Hannah Schoenbaum in Salt Lake City and Julie Walker in New York contributed.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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