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Tropical Storm Beta Nearing Texas Coast With Threats of Flooding Rain, Storm Surge and Gusty Winds

Published in 21 September, 2020

At a Glance

  • Tropical Storm Beta is nearing the Texas Coast.

  • After landfall, Beta will drift northeastward on the Texas coast Monday night through Wednesday.

  • The storm will pose a threat of flooding rainfall, particularly in parts of Texas and Louisiana.

  • Coastal flooding from storm surge has already occurred on the Texas and Louisiana coasts.

  • Tropical-storm-force winds will affect parts of coastal Texas through Monday.

Tropical Storm Beta is nearing the northwest Gulf Coast and poses threats of flooding rainfall, storm surge and gusty winds to parts of Texas and Louisiana into midweek.

Current Alerts
A tropical storm warning is in effect from Port Aransas, Texas, to Morgan City, Louisiana, including Houston and Victoria, Texas, and Cameron, Louisiana. Tropical storm conditions (winds 39 mph or greater) will spread across southwestern Louisiana and coastal Texas through Monday.

A storm surge warning is also in effect from Port Aransas, Texas, to the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana, including Copano Bay, Aransas Bay, San Antonio Bay, Matagorda Bay, Galveston Bay, Sabine Lake and Lake Calcasieu

Happening Now
Beta is centered just over 100 miles south-southwest of Galveston, Texas, and is moving westward at over 5 mph. Maximum sustained winds in Beta are 50 mph.

Satellite imagery shows that Beta is not well organized this morning since it continues to battle dry air and unfavorable upper-level winds. However, the storm is still bringing several impacts.

Showers and thunderstorms from Beta are affecting parts of Louisiana and Texas right now.

Portions of the Texas and Louisiana coasts in the storm surge warning area have been experiencing coastal flooding at times of high tide since Saturday. A 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. The gauges indicated that this amount of water rise has resulted in major coastal flooding in some areas. San Luis Pass, Texas, had a peak storm surge of 4.15 feet on Monday morning. Beta’s occasional tropical-storm-force wind gusts have also reached parts of the upper and middle Texas coastline. Those winds are mostly located to the north of Beta’s circulation center, as depicted in the map below.

Forecast Track and Intensity
Beta is forecast to track steadily to the west through Monday night toward the middle Texas coastline.

The storm will continue to battle dry air and wind shear, which should prevent any major intensification from occurring before the storm makes landfall.

Landfall of Beta’s center on the Texas coast should occur sometime later Monday. However, impacts like rainfall, coastal flooding and gusty winds have arrived well in advance of that.

After Beta makes landfall, the system is expected to curl slowly north and then northeast near or inland from the Gulf Coast toward the lower Mississippi Valley as it weakens. That will result in bouts of heavy rainfall in some of the areas near and well east of its path into late week.

Forecast Impacts
Flooding Rainfall

Beta is a slow-moving storm, and that means it poses a threat of flooding rainfall.

(MORE: A Hurricane’s Forward Speeds Can Be As Important as Its Intensity)

Areas from southern Louisiana and the middle and upper Texas coast could see 5 to 10 inches of rainfall, with isolated totals up to 15 inches possible, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). There could be localized rainfall totals of 3 to 5 inches farther inland from the coast as far north and east as the ArkLaTex Region and the lower Mississippi Valley through the end of the week.

Flash flooding and urban flooding will impact some of these areas and there could river flooding as well, according to the NHC.

It’s important to note that not every location in the areas mentioned above will see rainfall amounts this high or flooding. The heaviest rainfall will be near where the storm’s circulation center tracks, and in bands well to its east.

Flash flood watches have been issued by the National Weather Service from the middle Texas coast to southern Louisiana, including Houston, Lake Charles and New Orleans. Beta is not expected to produce rainfall that is anywhere comparable to Hurricane Harvey (2017) or Tropical Storm Imelda (2019).

Storm Surge

Coastal flooding from Beta’s storm surge has already occurred since Saturday along parts of the Texas and Louisiana coasts.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) notes that there is a danger of life-threatening storm surge near times of high tide through Tuesday in the storm surge warning area of Texas and Louisiana. Bouts of coastal flooding could persist through midweek at high tide as far east southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi as onshore winds persist there.

Storm surge in combination with heavy rainfall could only worsen flooding near the coast early this week.

Here’s the current storm surge forecast from the NHC, if the peak surge occurs at times of high tide.

Winds

Tropical-storm-force winds are already occurring at times on the immediate Texas coast and will continue there through Tuesday.

Stronger gusts could trigger sporadic power outages and might down some trees, particularly in areas where the soil becomes saturated from heavy rainfall. Major wind damage is not expected from Beta.

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