Hurricane Warnings Ahead of Tropical Storm Hanna are 1st for Texas in Over 1,000 Days

Tropical storm warnings were in effect across portions of central and southern Texas on Friday, July 24, 2020. (AccuWeather)

Residents along the Texas Gulf Coast on Friday afternoon were bracing for a hit from Tropical Storm Hanna, which was looming about 190 miles east of Corpus Christi. Hanna was packing 50 mph winds and moving west over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico at a speed of 10 mph. Tropical storm warnings were in effect across a large portion of the Texas Gulf Coast as the storm spun closer to land. A hurricane warning was also issued for Corpus Christi and surrounding areas, the first hurricane warning for this part of the Texas coast since August of 2017 before Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

AccuWeather forecasters predict Hanna will make landfall sometime on Saturday. “We expect the system to make landfall as a solid tropical storm along the central Texas coast sometime during the day on Saturday,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said, adding that near Corpus Christi is where the storm will come ashore, possibly about 45 miles south of there in Baffin Bay, Texas.

Sosnowski also cautioned that there’s a chance Hanna could strengthen into a hurricane, and become the Atlantic basin’s first of the year now that Tropical Storm Gonzalo is encountering conditions unfavorable for much strengthening.

“Considering that water temperatures are well into the 80s along its path, Hanna has a chance of rapidly strengthening prior to landfall on Saturday and could become a hurricane before doing so,” Sosnowski said.

“At the very least,” Sosnowski added, “Hanna will likely be a strong tropical storm at landfall with wind gusts to at least 70 mph.” He said dry air may be drawn in from the west on Saturday for a time “and that could be enough to keep the storm from becoming a hurricane,” but pointed out that the actual difference might be a few miles per hour in wind speeds.

AccuWeather forecasters have rated the storm a 1 on the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes, a more nuanced method the company introduced in 2019 to assess the potential damage a tropical system could cause.

Due to Hanna’s strengthening throughout the day on Friday and the nature of the forecast, officials in Texas were preparing for impact. Authorities in Corpus Christi shut down the beaches at noon on Friday ahead of the storm’s arrival. Police and lifeguards could be seen ushering people off the beaches there, AccuWeather’s Bill Wadell reported. The fire department was preparing crews for swift-water rescues and residents were filling sandbags.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had urged “all those who are in the path of this storm to heed the warnings and guidance from local officials before the storm makes landfall.” In a statement, Abbott said that “Texas will coordinate with local officials to provide assistance and resources to communities in the area.” Abbott was also updating residents on the growing COVID-19 crisis impacting much of his state.

Heavy rain will pose the greatest risk to lives and property along the Gulf Coast, forecasters say. A general 2-4 inches of rain is forecast to fall across a wide area of southeast Texas and southern Louisiana. Places closer to the coast, including Corpus Christi, Galveston and even into portions of the Rio Grande Valley could see between 4 and 8 inches of rainfall. An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 12 inches is anticipated.

Locally heavy rainfall, enough to produce some flash flooding, will occur across parts of Louisiana and Texas Friday and Saturday, regardless of precisely where the storm comes ashore. “Some of the rain will be beneficial,” Sosnowski said, adding, “but too much rain may also fall — perhaps close to a foot in some areas of South Texas — which will lead to flooding.”

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SOURCE: Accuweather – Adriana Navarro