Hurricane Beryl: Heavy rain, winds, and destruction in Texas -

Hurricane Beryl: Heavy rain, winds, and destruction in Texas

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features Hurricane Beryl on July 8, just after the storm made landfall near Matagorda, Texas. 

With its fury of winds and rain, Hurricane Beryl knocked out power to approximately 3 million homes and businesses, and claiming three lives. 

“As it moved north toward Houston, Beryl dumped 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) of rain over the metro area,” said NASA.

The National Hurricane Center reported the storm has since moved east and downgraded to a tropical depression, but it continues to pose threats for several states in its path.

Turmoil across Texas

Beryl, having initially struck as a Category 1 hurricane, resulted in significant damage due to high-speed winds destroying ten transmission lines and toppling countless trees that, in turn, brought down power lines. State and local officials warn that restoring full power may take several days.

While Beryl has since weakened into a tropical storm and subsequently a tropical depression, its powerful winds and rains have continued to cause damage, knocking down hundreds of trees and stranding vehicles in flooded areas. “We’re not past any difficult conditions,” said Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

In the eye of the storm

Houston was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Beryl. CenterPoint Energy reported that over 2 million homes and businesses were left in the dark around the nation’s fourth-largest city.

Patrick stated that the utility company is deploying thousands of additional workers to reinstate power, giving priority to essential places like nursing homes and assisted living centers.

According to the Associated Press, at least two individuals were killed when trees fell onto their homes. A third person, an employee of the Houston Police Department, died after being trapped in floodwaters beneath a highway overpass.

Dangerous heat and power outages

Despite the storm moving inland, officials from Houston and Harris County said that power crews are urgently working to restore electricity, especially essential in the peak of the summer season.

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory, warning that temperatures could soar to 105 degrees Fahrenheit as early as Tuesday. 

To combat these conditions, the state plans to create and operate cooling centers alongside food and water distribution hubs, said Nim Kidd, chief of state emergency operations.

The aftermath of Beryl 

Beryl’s aftermath left Houston and various coastal areas grappling with the reclosing of streets in neighborhoods already battered by previous storms. 

Louisiana now braces for Beryl. “The risk is going to be for that heavy rainfall and potential for flash flooding,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Donald Jones.

As it continues its path, Hurricane Beryl is expected to wreak further havoc with strong rains and winds in more states over the coming days. Missouri, already dealing with a wet summer, anticipates the imminent arrival of Beryl on Tuesday.

A truly historic storm 

Hurricane Beryl exceeded all expectations for an Atlantic storm developing in June. Even in a world increasingly shaped by extreme weather events, Hurricane Beryl stands out as a historic storm. 

Beryl smashed countless records, including the earliest Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic, as a result of unusually warm water. 

Early in July, Beryl tore into Carriacou Island as a powerful storm. “On the morning of July 1, Hurricane Beryl made landfall on Carriacou Island as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles (240 kilometers) per hour,” said NASA.

Beryl’s rapid intensification

Hurricane Beryl wasn’t just a record-breaker for its early arrival. The storm exhibited exceptionally rapid intensification

Beryl started as a tropical depression in the central tropical Atlantic on June 28 and transformed into a tropical storm the very next day. It wasn’t long before the National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm to a Category 4 hurricane.  

“The storm rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to a powerful Category 4 in less than 24 hours. ‘Rapid intensification’ occurs when wind speeds increase by at least 35 miles (56 kilometers) per hour, over 24 hours,” said NASA.

This was striking because, according to the National Hurricane Center, atmospheric conditions in late June are typically unfavorable for storm intensification in this part of the Atlantic.

Furthermore, the experts pointed out that very few storms have formed this far east so early in the hurricane season.

The image was captured by the Advanced Baseline Imager on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-16 (GOES-16).

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 


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