Hurricane Beryl makes landfall with life-threatening storm surge

(The Center Square) – More than two million Texans are without power after Hurricane Beryl made landfall Monday morning, and at least two people have been killed in North Houston. The Category 1 hurricane made landfall at 4 a.m. near Matagorda, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.

The two reportedly were killed by falling trees, including a 74-year-old woman.

At a news conference Monday morning, Houston Mayor John Whitmire called the storm dangerous.

“This is a dangerous situation, and it will be dangerous for several more hours, in terms of severe weather,” Whitemire said. “We’re experiencing the dirty side of a dirty hurricane. Shelter in place. Shelter in place. We’re in an emergency.”

The National Hurricane Center said it was a life-threatening storm.

“There is a continuing danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation along the coast of Texas from Mesquite Bay to Sabine Pass, including Matagorda Bay and Galveston Bay,” the National Hurricane Center warned as Beryl made landfall. “Considerable flash and urban flooding is expected today into tonight across portions of middle and upper Texas Gulf Coast and eastern Texas. Minor-to-isolated major river flooding is also expected. Rip currents will cause life threatening beach conditions through Tuesday across much of the Gulf Coast.”

Ahead of the storm, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a news conference on Sunday saying that 121 counties had already been issued disaster declarations ahead of the storm. He also said Texans should expect to lose power because of the wind, with Houston also under a tornado watch.

“As Hurricane Beryl approaches the Texas coast, now is the time for Texans to make their final preparations to protect themselves and their property. 121 counties are already under state disaster declaration, and more may be added if conditions warrant,” he said.

Patrick is serving as acting governor while Gov. Greg Abbott is on an economic development tour in Asia visiting officials in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

“Beryl is expected to intensify right up to landfall and could transform into a Category 2 Hurricane,” Patrick said. “Beryl is a resilient storm, and it poses a serious threat for Texans in its path at landfall and the following 24 hours as it moves through Texas. The storm’s predicted path is shifting east, and the areas east of the I-35 corridor are expected to bear the brunt of the inclement weather. Residents sheltering in place should take precautions right away for sustained wind, heavy rain, flooding, storm surges on the coast, and possible tornados.

“It is of utmost importance that Texans pay close attention to their local officials. As Acting Governor, I am in constant communication with state agencies and will continue to do so. Do not ignore this very serious storm.”

More than 2,500 first responders and 1,200 assets were rostered and deployed as of Sunday in support of the state’s response to anticipated impacts from Hurricane Beryl, he said.

The Houston region is expected to get up to a foot of rain, Houston Mayor John Whitmire said at a separate news conference. He also encouraged everyone to stay off of the roads.

Rainfall is expected to top 10 inches in areas surrounding Houston. Storm surges in Galveston are expected to reach between 5 and 7 feet, officials said. The entire island was among the first to lose power early Monday.

Ahead of the storm, Houston Public Works announced it was lowering Lake Houston by 12 inches in preparation for Beryl.

“Property owners should secure property along the shoreline,” HPW said.

Last month, lowering the lake and heavy rainfall caused the Trinity and San Jacinto rivers to flood as Tropical Storm Alberto hit, The Center Square reported. Voluntary evacuations were issued as several towns were under water, experiencing 3- to 4-foot storm surges as the first tropical storm of the season moved in. Not soon after, heavy rainfall and freshwater pouring into the Galveston Bay caused an “unprecedented crisis,” wiping out the regional oyster industry.

This is after in May, more than 230 agencies responded to catastrophic storms, flooding and power outages in southeast Texas, The Center Square reported.

Before Beryl hit Texas, it barreled through the Caribbean, killing at least 11 people before passing through Mexico. It is reported to be the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record to form in the Atlantic, two months before the hurricane season normally starts.