© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

San Antonio eyes Hurricane Beryl as it batters Mexico's Yucatán

National Hurricane Center
Beryl continued to track toward South Texas.

A scorching Independence Day in San Antonio gave way to the first of several days of concern as residents from Laredo to the Alamo City to Houston focused on deadly Hurricane Beryl swirling in their direction.

By Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center's (NHC) grim analysis of Beryl's progress moved the point of landfall slightly northward, between Brownsville and Corpus Christi. Beryl may still be a hurricane by the time it strikes the Texas coast late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

Forecasts also suggested that San Antonio may feel Beryl's tropical storm-force rain and wind by early Tuesday morning, if not sooner.

Hurricane Beryl made landfall near Tulum as a Category 2 storm early Friday, following a destructive streak through the Caribbean. It's forecast to gain strength as it moves over the Gulf of Mexico.

It may come as a relief after a long holiday weekend of summer heat and African dust. However, even if Beryl has weakened to a tropical depression as it moves into South Central Texas — which became less likely through Friday — it could still unleash dangerous floods and destructive winds. The latest forecast showed Beryl moving into the San Antonio region as a tropical storm.

After killing at least seven people in the Caribbean region, Beryl struck Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula late Thursday.

Archaeological sites, schools, and businesses were closed since early Thursday. More than 340 flights were canceled from the Tulum, Cancún and Merida airports, leaving many tourists stranded.

Before the storm hit, residents in parts of Quintana Roo, including Punta Allen where the hurricane struck, were evacuated.

Mexican authorities urged the population in Quintana Roo to seek refuge in one of the 112 shelters established in the area. The state of Yucatán had 1,170 temporary shelters set up before the storm arrived.

The NHC explained that "Beryl is expected to emerge over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico tonight and then move northwestward toward northeastern Mexico and southern Texas by the end of the weekend."

"[S]low re-intensification is expected once Beryl moves back over the Gulf of Mexico," the advisory warned.

The storm would likely affect oil prices too.

In early July, when Beryl's path was still unclear, Matt Smith, an energy analyst for Kpler, explained to the "Texas Standard" that "if the storm is heading more to the eastern part of the Gulf, then it’s more bullish for oil prices because it’s likely to knock out offshore production."

But, he added, if "it’s heading more to the western part of the Gulf — so making landfall along the Texas to Louisiana shoreline — then that’s bearish for oil but bullish for refined products because refineries could get damaged or at least taken off line. So oil isn’t consumed while products are not produced."

Texas prepares

On Wednesday, Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. issued a voluntary evacuation notice to people with recreational vehicles and other "high profile vehicles" parked at the county parks of Isla Blanca Park, Andy Bowie Park and Adolph Thomae, Jr. Park in Arroyo City.

On Thursday, a statement from Gov. Greg Abbott explained that he "directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to increase the readiness level of the State Emergency Operations Center to Level II (Escalated Response Conditions)" on Friday morning

The statement added that TDEM would prepare its resources for deployment before Beryl struck the state. TDEM issued its guidance here.

On Thursday, Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid "issued a voluntary evacuation for Loyola Beach, Baffin Bay and all low lying areas." He also issued guidance for shelters and people with RVs.

Hidalgo, Willacy, and Kleberg counties and the cities of Brownsville, Kingsville, Mission, Edinburg and Weslaco also scheduled sandbag distribution events this weekend. Corpus Christi's distribution event was canceled because it ran out of sandbags by Friday morning.

The U.S. military in the region also prepared. On Thursday, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi reported that it was now under "Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness Three (TCCOR 3) for the Coastal Bend area."

The Texas Department of Public Safety reminded all residents to prepare themselves for the very busy hurricane season in 2024. Abbott's statement on Thursday did the same.

Tropical weather in the Gulf of Mexico quickly moves inland, they warned, unleashing flash floods that can inundate homes and winds that can rip down power lines and plunge communities into darkness.

Authorities may order evacuations, and residents should be ready to efficiently head for safer parts of the state. They advised residents to study hurricane evacuation maps and identify at least two routes they could take — a primary route and a backup route.

An emergency kit should include water, non-perishable food, medications, first aid, flashlights, batteries, battery-powered radio, personal hygiene items and important documents.

Residents were urged to ensure much of that kit was assembled now, and that those documents can be quickly located, added to the kit and taken with them. They should also keep in mind the special needs of elderly or disabled loved ones or neighbors.

The governor's Texas Hurricane Center website offered similar advice.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also offered disaster related advice. A collection of articles, videos and other resources counseled consumers about how to avoid scams as they prepare, how to organize important documents before a storm strikes, and how to rebuild finances after enduring severe weather emergency, among other topics.

The FTC's advice came in multiple languages, including Ukrainian, Spanish, Tagalog and Arabic.

The season

The Atlantic season officially began on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30. Forecasters predicted this year's season may see about two dozen named storms, including 11 hurricanes and five major hurricanes.

Michael Brennan, director of the NHC, explained to Houston Public Media (HPM) that forecasters expected “17 to 25 named storms that would be tropical storm strength or greater, of which eight to 13 would become hurricanes, and four to seven major hurricanes of category three to five on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale."

He noted that this year’s hurricane forecast could break a record for the NOAA.

Record warm sea temperatures, combined with the La Niña effect -- which takes away wind shear that can block hurricanes -- created the ideal conditions for frequent tropical developments this year.

National Weather Service

The season has so far seen storms named Alberto, Beryl and Chris (a short lived tropical storm in June).

If this year's list of names is exhausted, forecasters will not draw more names from the Greek alphabet, as it did in 2020. The World Meteorological Organization decided in 2021 that a supplemental list of names would be used instead.

Record-shattering ocean temperatures have helped Beryl gain strength as it moves through the Caribbean. It is the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded this early in the year.

African dust

The National Weather Service (NWS) also expected that Saharan dust would return to Texas this week.

The edge of the dust plume would likely float over the southern coast of Texas and then combine with residual smoke from agricultural burning in Mexico and Central America.

The dust and smoke will keep San Antonio air quality in the Alamo City in the "moderate" range, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Smoke from fireworks Thursday night added to the air pollution in the city.

Residents should take this as a reminder to change the air filters in their home. They should also at least keep a mask with them if air quality worsens while they're out. People with heart and lung ailments should limit their time outdoors.

NWS Meteorologist Matt Brady said Hurricane Beryl could help dissipate the Saharan dust.

The African dust can be bothersome, but it has significant overall benefits to the Western Hemisphere.

KUT's Mose Buchele explained in a recent report about the dust that it comes from "ancient lake creatures. ... These microscopic diatoms thrived in massive inland lakes in North Africa about 6,000 years ago. When natural changes in climate brought an end to the African 'humid period,' the lakes dried up. But the tiny skeletons of those diatoms remained. They formed a fine, powdery sand that now covers the region."

He added that the phosphorous in the dust acts like a fertilizer and nurtures plant growth. "In fact," he wrote, "researchers believe the Amazon rainforests of South America rely on annual injections of Saharan dust to stay healthy and green."

Norma Martinez, Stephania Corpi, Jerry Clayton, Pablo de la Rosa, the Texas Standard's Alexandra Hart, KUT's Mose Buchele and Houston Public Media's Sarah Grunau, Matt Thomas, Jack Williams and Lota Nwaukwa contributed to this report.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.