Tropical Storm Beta meandering toward Texas, Louisiana

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Tropical Storm Beta yesterday was making a slow crawl to the shores of Texas and Louisiana in the United States (US) casting worries about heavy rain, flooding and storm surge across the Gulf Coast.

Beta was one of three named storms whirling in the Atlantic basin during an exceptionally busy hurricane season. If the system makes landfall in Texas — which forecasters predict it will sometime today — it would be the ninth named storm to make landfall in the continental (US in 2020. Colorado State hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said that would tie a record set in 1916.

Coastal communities began preparing for Beta over the weekend, with both the city of Galveston and Galveston County on Saturday issued voluntary evacuation orders. The city of Seabrook to the north of Galveston did, too.

Mayor Pro Tem Craig Brown said in a statement that high tides and up to 25 centimetres of expected rainfall would leave roads impassable, especially along the city’s west end and low-lying areas.

County Judge Mark Henry said during a Saturday news conference that his concern is also based on rising waters creating a storm surge and that a mandatory evacuation is not expected.

“If you can survive in your home for three or four days without power and electricity, which we’re not even sure that’s going to happen, you’re OK,” Henry said. “If it’s uncomfortable or you need life support equipment, maybe go somewhere else.”

Beta was brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, 355 kilometres southeast of Galveston, Texas, the US National Hurricane Center said yesterday morning. The storm had maximum sustained winds at 95kph and was moving west-northwest at 6kph.

Little change in strength was expected as the system approaches Texas, forecasters said. Earlier predictions showed Beta could reach hurricane strength before making landfall.

Corpus Christi city workers load free sandbags for residents ahead of Tropical Storm Beta. PHOTO: AP