Beryl Makes Landfall In Texas As A Category 1 Hurricane, Knocking Out Power To More Than 1 Million

(AP) — Hurricane Beryl swept ashore in Texas as a Category 1 storm in the dark of the early morning hours Monday, lashing Houston with heavy rains and powerful winds, and knocking out power to more than one million homes and businesses as fast rising waters caused street flooding and prompted rescues.

Beryl had already cut a deadly path through parts of Mexico and the Caribbean before turning toward Texas, and hit land around 4 a.m. High waters quickly began to close streets in storm-weary Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, which was again under flood warnings after heavy storms in recent months washed out neighbourhoods.

CenterPoint Energy in Houston reported more than one million homes and businesses were without power hours after the storm made landfall. Flood warnings were in effect across a wide stretch of the Texas coast, where a powerful storm surge pushed water ashore, and further inland as heavy rain continued to fall.

Police in the Houston suburb of Rosenberg urged residents to stay off the roads, reporting that one of its high-water rescue vehicles had been hit by a falling tree while returning from a rescue. Video footage showed heavy street flooding in the barrier island city of Galveston, and Houston was under a flash flood warning for most of the morning as heavy rain continued to soak the city.

The National Weather Service expected Beryl to weaken to a tropical storm Monday and a tropical depression Tuesday, forecasting a turn to the northeast and increase in speed Monday night and Tuesday. The storm’s centre is expected to move over eastern Texas on Monday and then through the lower Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Beryl’s moving inland but this is not the end of the story yet,” said Jack Beven, senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center.

In the Texas coastal city of Freeport, Patti Richardson said she was riding out the storm in her 123-year-old house.

“We are sitting in the middle of it. It sounds like we are in a train station, it’s that loud and has been about four hours. We’re just hoping everything holds together,” Richardson said. “You can feel the house shaking … It’s freaky.”

Beryl had weakened to a tropical storm after damaging Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, but became a hurricane again late Sunday. The storm’s centre hit land around 4 a.m. about 85 miles (137 kilometres) southwest of Houston with top sustained winds of 80 mph (128.7 kph).

More than 1,000 flights have been cancelled at Houston’s two airports, according to tracking data from FlightAware.

The earliest storm to develop into a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic, Beryl caused at least 11 deaths as it passed through the Caribbean on its way to Texas. The storm ripped off doors, windows and roofs with devastating winds and storm surge fuelled by the Atlantic’s record warmth.