The one thing the Gulf Coast of the United States doesn’t need is another tropical storm, especially a slow-moving one that is expected to hug the coastline for several days. And that is exactly what the National Hurricane Center is forecastinbg in its latest advisory, issued at 11 a.m. EDT.
With maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph), Tropical Storm Beta is about 55 miles (90 kilometers) to the southeast of Port O’Connor, Texas, moving to the west-northwest at about 7 mph (11 kph). The minimum central pressure stands at 996 mb (29.42 inches).
Beta’s general forward motion is expected to continue through the day, and then the storm is forecast to decrease in speed and make a sharp turn to the north and northeast on Tuesday. Until then, Beta will likely move inland by tonight. Beta is forecast to remain close to the coast of southeastern Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km) from the center, with the storm’s outer bands already bringing showers and thunderstorms to parts of Texas and Louisiana. Portions of the Texas coast in the storm surge warning area have been experiencing coastal flooding at times of high tide since Saturday.
While Beta is not expected to become a hurricane, it could drop up to 15 inches of rain in some areas, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to make landfall near Port Lavaca
#Beta is picking up the pace towards the Texas Gulf Coast this morning. This tropical storm's rain shield will be impacting Texas and Louisiana for the rest of today and into tomorrow.
We're LIVE in the field. pic.twitter.com/NKVeYpAt4D
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) September 21, 2020
Storm surge between 3 to 4 feet has been measured early Monday morning at several tidal gauges on the upper Texas coast, including around Galveston Bay, while San Luis Pass, Texas, had a peak storm surge of 4.15 feet on Monday morning. There’s also been coastal flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi, reaching moderate levels in some areas, including near Lake Pontchartrain.
Texas governor issues emergency declaration
As Tropical Storm Beta inches toward the Texas coast today, Governor Greg Abbott has issued a disaster declaration for dozens of counties.
Counties in the state’s disaster declaration include: Aransas, Bee, Bexar, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Liberty, Live Oak, Matagorda, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, Sabine, San Augustine, San Patricio, Shelby, Travis, Victoria, and Wharton, according to KSAT.com.
“As Tropical Storm Beta approaches the coast, I urge Texans in the path of the storm to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from flooding, storm surge, and other impacts from this severe weather,” Abbott said in a news release. “The State of Texas is working closely with local officials on the ground to provide the resources our communities need to respond to Tropical Storm Beta and keep residents safe.”