Tropical Storm Beta makes landfall, brings flooding to Texas

Water rises from the storm surge of Tropical Storm Beta in The Strand as the storm moves toward landfall, late Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Galveston, Texas.

Storm surge and rainfall combined Tuesday to bring more flooding along the Texas coast after Tropical Storm Beta made landfall, threatening areas that have already seen their share of damaging weather during a busy hurricane season.

The storm made landfall late Monday just north of Port O’Connor, Texas. Early Tuesday, Beta was 35 miles (56 kilometers) north northwest of the city with maximum winds of 40 mph (64 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. The storm was moving toward the northwest near 3 mph (4 kilometers) and is expected to stall inland over Texas.

“We currently have both storm surge and rainfall going on right now,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Amaryllis Cotto in Galveston, Texas.

Cotto said 6-12 inches (15-30 centimeters) of rain has fallen in the area, with isolated amounts of up to 18 inches (45 centimeters). Dangerous flash flooding is expected through Wednesday, Cotto said.

Beta was the ninth named storm that made landfall in the continental U.S. this year. That tied a record set in 1916, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. It also was the first time a Greek letter named storm made landfall in the continental U.S. Forecasters ran out of traditional storm names on Friday, forcing the use of the Greek alphabet for only the second time since the 1950s.

Beta will move inland over southeastern Texas through Wednesday and then over Louisiana and Mississippi on Wednesday night through Friday, and the biggest unknown from Beta was how much rainfall it could produce. Beta was expected to weaken into a depression, but flash flooding was possible in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi as the system moves farther inland.

Earlier predictions of up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) in some areas were downgraded Monday to up to 15 inches (38 centimeters).

Forecasters and officials reassured residents Beta was not expected to be another Hurricane Harvey or Tropical Storm Imelda. Harvey in 2017 dumped more than 50 inches (127 centimeters) of rain on Houston, causing $125 billion in damage in Texas. Imelda, which hit Southeast Texas last year, was one of the wettest cyclones on record.

Storm surge up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) was possible in the Galveston and Beaumont areas through Wednesday morning, forecasters said. In Galveston, an island city southeast of Houston, there was already some street flooding Monday from rising tides and part of a popular fishing pier collapsed due to strong waves.

Farther south on the Texas coast, Maria Serrano Culpepper along with her two daughters and dogs left their home in Magnolia Beach near Matagorda Bay on Sunday night.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.