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

Beryl made landfall near Cozumel, Mexico, on Friday morning as a Category 2 hurricane, battering the coast and knocking out power to several resorts and resorts. The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon and is expected to continue weakening until it emerges over the Gulf of Mexico on Friday evening.

Concerns are growing in Texas, where the National Hurricane Center now predicts the storm will hit between Sunday night and Monday, by which time Beryl will likely regain hurricane status and continue to intensify until it makes landfall.

“There is an increasing risk of hurricane-force winds, life-threatening storm surges and flooding from heavy rainfall across portions of northeastern Mexico and coastal lower and middle Texas late Sunday and Monday,” the Hurricane Center wrote Friday.

Computer model simulations run Friday showed that the area around Corpus Christi is a particular area of ​​concern, though shifts in Beryl’s predicted track — north or south — are possible. In addition, hurricane impacts could extend hundreds of miles from where the storm’s center strikes.

Beryl made landfall in Mexico around 6 a.m. just north of the beach resort of Tulum, whipping palm trees with 100 mph winds and battering communities with rain. There were widespread blackouts but no casualties were reported, said Laura Velázquez, the national coordinator of civil protection.

Speaking from the region, she told reporters at President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s morning press conference that about half of Tulum and half of the territory of Isla Mujeres, another tourist destination, were without power. Several neighborhoods on the island of Cozumel also had power outages.

The strong winds toppled trees and power poles, but no one was killed or seriously injured, Velázquez said. Authorities rescued several people from flooded homes.

Cancun International Airport has canceled nearly 300 flights, while Tulum Airport is not scheduled to reopen until Sunday.

Authorities advised residents and tourists to stay indoors due to downed power lines and trees.

The storm did not cause significant erosion of the region’s famed white-sand beaches, Governor Mara Lezama said, citing reports from the hotel association. The hurricane also did not appear to cause major damage to five-star hotels, but it did batter the shaky homes of poorer residents in coastal communities. People on TikTok described how the wind ripped roof panels off modest homes.

“The wind picked up last night and our electricity went out,” said a man who identified himself as John, in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun. “At sunrise, the roof panels of our neighbor’s house in front of us blew off. The [car] “The alarms haven’t stopped blaring.”

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

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

The region is used to hurricanes; in 2005, Hurricane Wilma killed eight people and caused billions of dollars in damage. So this time, Mexican authorities took extensive precautions, sending nearly 10,000 army, navy and national guard troops to help victims and patrol the rain-flooded streets.

With the storm now on a collision course with the western Gulf Coast, the Hurricane Center plans to issue tropical storm, storm surge and hurricane warnings for parts of Texas and northeastern Mexico.

As of 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the center of Beryl was located over the northwestern Yucatán Peninsula, or about 650 miles east-southeast of Brownsville, Texas, moving west-northwest at 15 mph. Maximum winds had decreased to 70 mph, making Beryl a tropical storm. Weakening will continue until the storm reaches the ocean again.

As Beryl moves west-northwest through the Gulf of Mexico into the weekend, where water temperatures will be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the Hurricane Center predicts winds will gradually strengthen.

Model simulations vary in how quickly Beryl will re-strengthen and to what extent.

Hurricane-specific models largely do not predict rapid intensification. But larger-scale models such as the U.S. and European ones predict what the Hurricane Center describes as “significant deepening as Beryl approaches the coastline.” Abnormally warm waters and favorable high-altitude wind patterns could cause rapid strengthening.

But Beryl could be prevented from strengthening if the core of the storm were to disturbed and unable to repair itself after crossing the Yucatán.

Another wildcard is exactly where Beryl will make landfall. Models predict that Beryl will come in parallel with the coasts of Tamaulipas, Mexico, and Texas, meaning that small wobbles in its orbit will have dramatic effects on its ultimate landing location.

A significant influence on the track’s prediction is a dip in the jet stream over the central United States, which will try to pull Beryl northward. But when and where that pull will occur is still unclear. If Beryl is stronger, it is more likely to be pulled northward toward the coast of Lower and Middle Texas, but if it is weaker, it has a greater chance of hitting northeastern Mexico.

For those in northern Mexico or along the Lower and Middle Texas coast, it’s a good time to start preparing for a possible hurricane impact. A Category 1 or 2 landfall is most likely, but a major Category 3 hurricane isn’t entirely out of the question if Beryl intensifies faster than expected. “Stakeholders in these areas should continue to monitor forecast updates closely,” the Hurricane Center wrote.

The weather service in Brownsville, Texas, is predicting at least 4 to 6 inches of rain in the region, and possibly as much as 10 inches.

“Rainfall is not the only hazard associated with Beryl,” the Weather Service wrote. “High risk of rip currents[s]storm surge, damaging to destructive coastal waves, including coastal flooding, high waves, and tropical storm force winds. Beryl could also bring some weak, short-lived tornadoes to the area.”

The weather service in Corpus Christi, Texas, also urged residents to begin preparing, citing the potential for coastal flooding, a high risk of rip currents and heavy rainfall.

Beryl became the first hurricane of the 2024 season and the earliest-forming Category 5 ever recorded in the Atlantic on Monday night. The storm — fueled by record-warm ocean waters — broke benchmarks for its strength and the speed at which it intensified so early in the season, stunned meteorologists.

The storm first hit Grenada, St. Vincent and other Caribbean islands on Monday, leaving widespread devastation — mainly in the Grenadian islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique — killing at least five people. Three more deaths were reported in Venezuela.

On Carriacou, home to about 7,000 people, the hurricane caused “total devastation,” said Allison Caton, 50, owner of Paradise Beach Club, a restaurant and bar on Paradise Beach that was destroyed. Many of the island’s residents are now living in makeshift shelters in schools.

The storm scraped along Jamaica’s southern coast on Wednesday, bringing flooding, rain and winds of more than 80 mph that destroyed homes and knocked down trees and power lines. At least two deaths were reported and about 65 percent of Jamaica Public Service Co. customers — some 400,000 homes — were without power on Thursday, the BBC reported.

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

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

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