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San Antonio possibly spared worst of Beryl's power as tropical threat moves east

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National Hurricane Center
Beryl's potential path through the Gulf of Mexico and into Texas in the days ahead

Tropical Storm Beryl took aim at the south central Texas Gulf Coast on Saturday. Communities from Galveston to Corpus Christi took Beryl's threat seriously, and they braced themselves for a hurricane sized assault on Sunday night.

Forecasters expected Beryl to grow into a hurricane before officially making landfall on Monday morning between Corpus Christi and Houston. But most of the Texas Gulf Coast could endure bigger waves, stronger winds and pouring rainfall for hours before that moment.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that a "Hurricane Warning is now in effect for the Texas coast from Baffin Bay northward to Sargent."

It explained that a "Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion."

The NHC added that a "turn toward the north-northwest is expected Sunday night, with a turn toward the north on Monday. On the forecast track, the center of Beryl is expected to make landfall on the Texas coast Monday morning."

It also warned that tornadoes could be spawned along the coast on Sunday afternoon and evening.

Residents across southeast Texas, including Houston, spent the weekend preparing themselves for Beryl.

Houston Public Media (HPM) reported that meteorologists forecasted "up to eight inches of rain for parts of the region on Monday and Tuesday. The center of the storm is projected to pass west of Houston."

HPM added that "[t]ropical storm level winds could be an issue for Galveston and other coastal areas south of the city. Officials are warning of the potential for two to four feet of storm surge, as well. Galveston County on Saturday issued a preemptive disaster declaration."

The potential danger the storm posed to the state spread like a shadow across Texas as dozens of counties — including Bexar — were added to a state disaster declaration on Friday and Saturday.

On Saturday, Refugio County and the City of Port Aransas issued mandatory evacuation orders. Nueces, Brazoria, Matagorda, Aransas and Calhoun counties issued voluntary evacuation orders for residents and visitors.

Nueces County Judge Connie Scott's announcement added that "visitors must evacuate by tomorrow, July 7, 2024, by NOON."

On Saturday, the Corpus Christi Mayor Paulette Guajardo declared a "Local State of Disaster for the City of Corpus Christi in response to the impending severe weather conditions expected from Storm Beryl." It took effect immediately and would last no longer than seven days.


San Antonio and Bexar County

Saturday's forecasts also seemed to diminish the threat to the San Antonio region.

"The City of San Antonio Office of Emergency Management is in contact with the Texas Division of Emergency Management and other state and federal stakeholders, and will be ready to assist if asked, " read a statement from the city on Friday.

Bexar County and the City of San Antonio both said on Friday they were monitoring developments and coordinating with state emergency officials.

The Emergency Operations Center in San Antonio reported that it was prepared to coordinate the local response to handle traffic, flooding, water rescues, public works, and communication issues. The Freeman Coliseum complex would serve as staging area if needed.

Ironically, the San Antonio region did receive the pleasant surprise of sustained heavy rainfall throughout Saturday evening. Those storms came from the north and northwest and progressed southward. The National Weather Service credited a "stalled frontal boundary" for the steady rains.


Preparations

The Texas Department of Public Safety reminded all residents to prepare themselves for the very busy hurricane season in 2024. It 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. The Texas Department of State Health Services offered an online checklist and printable PDF checklist.

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 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.


Unexpected effects

The tropical weather may have indirectly led to shark attacks.

At least four shark related incidents — including at least two shark bites — were reported off South Padre Island during the Fourth of July holiday, just as Beryl moved closer to Texas.

Kesley Banks, a research scientist at the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, explained that large coastal sharks may increase their feeding behavior just before meteorological disturbances strike coastal communities, according to a recent study from Florida.

“Sharks can predict a hurricane before us," Banks explained to HPM in early July. "They’re obviously increasing feeding prior to a hurricane just like we prep before a large meteorological disturbance. Likely it is just a case of mistaken identity during that increase feeding behavior prior to the storm.”

An abnormally high number of people were bitten by sharks in coastal waters over the span of a day that began on July 4. Upticks in shark attacks alone are not cause for concern, an expert says.

Their intensified activity overlaps with large numbers of people enjoying summertime waters. They investigate by bumping the potential prey with their sandpaper-like skin, injuring the human with a scrape, or by taking an exploratory bite with razor sharp teeth, leading to serious wounds and blood loss.

According toa statement from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, "on July 4, Texas Game Wardens, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the South Padre Island Police Department (SPI PD) and Cameron County Park Rangers responded to reports of people being bitten by a shark at South Padre Island, within city limits. Details at this time indicate that two people were bitten and two people encountered the shark but were not seriously injured. The two victims who were bitten were transported to Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville where one is being treated and the other has been flown out for further treatment."

The statement explained that "Shark encounters of this nature are not a common occurrence in Texas. When bites from sharks do occur, they are usually a case of mistaken identity by sharks looking for food."

It added: "If you see large schools of bait near the shore, this typically an indicator a predator is nearby, or if you see a shark in the water, calmly exit the water and wait for the predatory wildlife to pass."


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.

The 2024 Atlantic hurricane 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 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.

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National Weather Service

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.

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.

Steve Short, Norma Martinez, Jerry Clayton, and Houston Public Media's Andrew Schneider, Sarah Grunau, Matt Thomas, Jack Williams and Spencer Plato contributed to this report.

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