Tropical Storm Beta makes landfall in Texas, bringing more rain and flooding to hurricane-weary Gulf Coast


Tropical Storm Beta, the 23rd storm of the relentless 2020 hurricane season, made landfall late Monday night in Texas, threatening to bring days of flooding downpours to portions of the storm-weary Gulf Coast.

The National Hurricane Center said that up to 15 inches of rain could fall in some areas.

“This rainfall can lead to significant flooding, which may last for several days,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Rob Miller said.

In addition to the heavy rain, storm surge up to 5 feet was forecast from San Luis Pass to Sabine Pass in Texas. The Texas Department of Transportation tweeted late Monday night that portions of State Highway 87 on the Bolivar Peninsula in Galveston County were not passable due to flooding.

“There is the danger of life-threatening storm surge near times of high tide through Tuesday along portions of the Texas and Louisiana coasts,” the Hurricane Center said. 

With maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, Beta made landfall around 10 p.m. CDT on the Texas coast near the Matagorda Peninsula, according to the Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m. update.

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A state of emergency was declared for Louisiana on Monday as the storm approached. This declaration allows the state to provide disaster assistance to local governments. In addition, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 29 counties in Texas on Monday.

In low-lying Galveston, Texas, officials advised people to have supplies ready in case they have to stay home for several days if roads are flooded.

“We’re not incredibly worried,” Galveston resident Nancy Kitcheo said Sunday. Kitcheo, 49, and her family had evacuated last month when forecasts said Hurricane Laura could make landfall near Galveston, but they’re planning to buy supplies and wait out Beta. Laura ended up making landfall in neighboring Louisiana.

Rising waters from Beta caused structural damage to the 61st Street Fishing Pier in Galveston, Texas, on Sunday. The National Weather Service in Houston said the rough surf and high tide caused the damage.

Flood waters fill the parking lot near Virginia's On the Bay in Port Aransas, TX on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020.
Flood waters fill the parking lot near Virginia’s On the Bay in Port Aransas, TX on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Sunday said that while Beta was not expected to bring rain like Hurricane Harvey in 2017, he cautioned residents to “be weather alert.”

“Be weather aware because things can change. This is 2020 and so we have to expect the unexpected,” said Turner.

Depending on the exact track of Beta, drenching downpours could reach the Southeast later in the week, including areas recently impacted by Hurricane Sally, according to AccuWeather.

Beta is the ninth named storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. in 2020.a record set in 1916, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

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The tropical storm claimed the second letter in the Greek alphabet on Friday afternoon, following Alpha. Once the last name on the Atlantic hurricane season’s designated list is exhausted, Greek letters are used to identify tropical storms, AccuWeather said.

This is only the second time that the Greek alphabet has been needed to name hurricanes. The first time was in 2005, when six Greek alphabet storm names were needed.

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Elsewhere, Hurricane Teddy was spinning in the Atlantic Ocean on Monday night, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and moving north at 25 mph. Teddy was centered 295 miles northeast of Bermuda about a week after Hurricane Paulette made landfall in the wealthy British territory.

After skirting by to the east of Bermuda, Teddy is expected to transition to a powerful post-tropical cyclone as it moves near or over portions of Atlantic Canada late Tuesday through Thursday, where there is an increasing risk of direct impacts from wind, rain and storm surge, the National Hurricane Center said. A tropical storm warning was in effect for portions of Nova Scotia.

Large swells generated by Teddy are affecting the east coast of the United States. “These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the Hurricane Center said.

Contributing: Steve Kiggins, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tropical Storm Beta makes landfall in Texas, brings rain, storm surge

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