Tropical Storm Beta Makes Landfall in Texas, Drenching Storm-Weary Gulf Coast


A portion of roadway is flooded in Corpus Christi, Texas on Sept. 20, 2020 due to storm surge from Tropical Storm Beta in the Gulf of Mexico. Matt Pierce / iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus

The National Hurricane Center has run out of names for tropical storms this year and has now moved on to the Greek alphabet during an extremely active hurricane season. Late Monday night, Tropical Storm Beta became the ninth named storm to make landfall. That’s the first time so many named storms have made landfall since 1916, when Woodrow Wilson was president, according to NBC News.

Beta is a small but slow-moving storm. Its tropical-storm winds extend 125 miles from the eye of the storm. However, the danger from Beta is not its winds, but the tremendous amount of rain it is expected to drop on towns and cities along the Interstate 10 corridor in Texas and Louisiana, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The National Hurricane Center issued an update late last night that the center of Beta made landfall in Texas near the Southern End of the Matagorda peninsula around 10 p.m. CDT.

The storm’s slow movement will stall Beta over Texas and drench the region with five to 10 inches of rain, said Rich Otto, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, MD, as The New York Times reported. The heavy rains and wind will also create dangerous storm surges.

“Twenty-four hours from now it will be in roughly the same location,” Otto said Monday, according to The New York Times.

That stalled movement has put roughly 11 million people under flash flood warnings that span the Texas and Louisiana coast, according to CNN. The sustained rain is also expected to cause river flooding and urban flooding.

Early Tuesday morning, Beta was moving no faster than people typically walk, at just 3 miles per hour. It is predicted to stall over inland Texas Tuesday and then move toward the east and northeast later in the day when it will begin to weaken, according to the AP. It is expected to stay in southeastern Texas through Wednesday and then move over Louisiana and Mississippi through Friday.

Dangerous flash floods may continue through Wednesday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Amaryllis Cotto in Galveston, Texas, who spoke to the AP. Cotto added that 6-12 inches of rain has already fallen in the area and some areas have seen 18 inches of rain.

On Monday night, Beta’s storm surge washed away a pier in Galveston, Texas. The incident was captured on video and posted to Twitter.

The governors of Texas and Louisiana both urged residents to be vigilant during the storm. Texas Governor Greg Abbot issued a disaster declaration for 29 counties Monday, while Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and begged residents still recovering from Hurricane Laura to be especially careful, according to The Weather Channel.

Nic Hunter, the mayor of Lake Charles, Louisiana, worried that Beta’s intense rains may be “an emotional and mental toll for a lot of our citizens,” as the city tries to recover after Hurricane Laura damaged 95 percent of the city’s nearly 30,000 buildings, according to the AP.

While Beta slowly drenches Texas, Hurricane Teddy has strengthened in the Atlantic and is churning towards Nova Scotia in Canada. It is expected to make landfall Wednesday.

“Teddy should turn to the north-northeast and move over eastern Nova Scotia on Wednesday then over the Gulf of St. Lawrence late Wednesday into Thursday,” National Hurricane Center forecasters said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

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