Hurricane Beryl hits Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, increasing risk to Texas

Beryl made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane near Cozumel, Mexico on Friday morning, battering the coast and knocking out power in several resort and vacation towns. Downgraded to a tropical storm Friday afternoon, it is forecast to continue weakening until it emerges in the Gulf of Mexico late Friday.

Concern is growing in Texas, where the National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will make landfall between Sunday night and Monday. By then, Beryl will probably regain hurricane status and strengthen enough to move ashore.

“The risk of hurricane-force winds and life-threatening storm surge damage is increasing along the coast of northeastern Mexico and lower and central Texas late Sunday and Monday,” the hurricane center wrote Friday.

Computer model simulations running Friday showed the area north of Corpus Christi as a particular area of ​​concern, although changes in Beryl’s predicted path — either north or south — are possible. Additionally, hurricane impacts can occur hundreds of miles away from the center of the storm.

As of 5 p.m. Friday, the Hurricane Center issued a tornado and storm surge watch from the Texas-Mexico border north of Galveston to about 60 miles southwest of Sargent, Tex. The watch area includes South Padre Island, Corpus Christi, Rockport and Matagorda.

Beryl made landfall in Mexico around 6 a.m. north of the beach resort of Tulum, tossing palm trees at 100 mph and lashing communities with rain. According to Laura Velasquez, national coordinator of civil protection, there were widespread blackouts but no casualties.

Speaking from the region, he told reporters at President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s morning news conference that half of Isla Mujeres, another tourist destination, and half of Tulum had lost power. Power was also cut in several neighborhoods on the island of Cozumel.

Strong winds knocked down trees and some power poles, but no one was killed or seriously injured, Velasquez said. Authorities rescued many people from flooded homes.

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The international airport in Cancun has canceled nearly 300 flights, while the airport in Tulum is not scheduled to reopen until Sunday.

Officials urged residents and tourists to stay indoors as trees and power lines were down.

The storm did not cause significant erosion of the region’s famous white-sand beaches, Governor Mara Lesama said, citing reports from the hotel association. The typhoon did not cause major damage to the five-star hotels, but hit the flimsy homes of poor residents of coastal communities. On TikTok, people described how the wind removed roof panels from ordinary houses.

“It was so windy last night that our power went out.” said a man who identified himself as John in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun. “At dawn, the roof panels of our neighbor’s house in front of us flew off. The [car] The alarms haven’t stopped ringing.”

Leslie Diaz posted a video on TikTok from Playa del Carmen shortly before the hurricane hit. Her dog was hiding under the covers of the bed in fear.

“It’s 5 a.m. and there’s a terrible noise.” she said, as the wind whistled in the background. “It hasn’t hit the ground yet, but it’s already very strong.”

The region is prone to cyclones; In 2005, Hurricane Wilma caused eight deaths and billions of dollars in damage. So Mexican authorities took adequate precautions this time, sending nearly 10,000 army, navy and national guard troops to help victims and patrol the rain-soaked streets.

As of 5 p.m. ET, Beryl’s center was about to exit the Yucatan Peninsula, or about 610 miles east-southeast of Brownsville, Tex., and was moving west-northwest at 15 mph. Maximum winds dropped to 65 mph. The storm is expected to weaken until it re-enters the ocean.

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Beryl is tracking west-northwest through the Gulf of Mexico through the weekend, where water temperatures are in the mid-80s, and the hurricane center is predicting at least gradual strengthening.

Model simulations vary on how quickly beryl solidifies and to what extent.

Hurricane-specific models often do not project rapid intensification. But large-scale models from the U.S. and Europe show what the Hurricane Center describes as “significant deepening as Beryl approaches the coast.” Abnormally warm waters and favorable high-altitude air patterns may fuel rapid strengthening.

But even the core of the storm could prevent Beryl from strengthening again After crossing the Yucatan it was disrupted and unable to rebuild itself.

Another wild card lands perfectly on Beryl. The models project Beryl is parallel to the Tamaulipas, Mexico, and Texas coasts, meaning that small wobbles in the path can have dramatic impacts on the final landslide location.

A significant influence on the track forecast is a decline in the jet stream over Central America, which will try to pull Beryl northward. But it remains to be seen when and where that tug-of-war happens. If Beryl is strong, it will be pulled north toward the lower and middle Texas coast, but if it is weak, it is more likely to hit northeastern Mexico. The evolution of Friday’s storm and model projections suggest the former is more likely.

For those in northern Mexico or along the lower and middle Texas coast, now is a good time to prepare for possible hurricane impact. A landfall in the Category 1 or 2 range is possible, but if Beryl intensifies faster than expected, a major, Category 3 hurricane is not entirely impossible. “Those of interest in these areas should closely monitor forecast updates,” the hurricane center wrote.

The weather service office in Brownsville said 4 to 8 inches of rain could fall in the area, depending on the storm’s track, which could cause flooding.

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“Along the coast … expect life-threatening rip currents, high surf, storm surge of about 2 to 4 feet and coastal high seas,” it wrote.

The weather service office in Corpus Christi, Tex., urged residents to start preparing, highlighting the potential for strong winds, coastal flooding, high rip current risk and heavy rainfall.

Beryl became the first hurricane of the 2024 season, a Category 5 recorded in the Atlantic on Monday night. The storm — fueled by record-warming sea water — Broke the criteria It shocked meteorologists for its strength and the rate at which it intensified so early in the season.

The storm first hit Grenada, St. Vincent and other Caribbean islands on Monday, causing widespread destruction. – particularly on the Grenadian islands of Carriacou and Petit Martinique – and killed at least five people. Three more deaths were reported in Venezuela.

In Cariaco, home to about 7,000 people, the typhoon “caused total devastation,” said Alison Catton, 50, owner of the Paradise Beach Club, which destroyed a restaurant and bar in Paradise Beach. Many of the island’s residents now live in temporary shelters at schools.

On Wednesday, the storm lashed Jamaica’s south coast, bringing torrential rain and winds of up to 80 mph that destroyed homes and downed trees and power lines. At least two deaths were reported and about 65 percent of Jamaica Public Service Company customers – about 400,000 households – were without power as of Thursday. BBC reported.

The storm brought strong winds and heavy rain to the Cayman Islands on Wednesday night before moving toward the Yucatan Peninsula.

Gabriela Martinez, Jason Samenow, Amanda Coletta, Kim Belware, Samantha Schmidt and Anumita Kaur contributed to this report.

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