Tropical Storm Beta prompts hurricane watch for parts of Texas


Tropical Storm Beta is churning in the Gulf of Mexico, prompting forecasters to issue a hurricane watch for a swathe of the Texas coast spanning from High Island to Port Aransas. Slow strengthening is expected, with Beta forecast to grow into a hurricane on Sunday. 

The storm is the latest to form in a highly active Atlantic hurricane season – so active that forecasters have run out of traditional storm names and moved on to using the Greek alphabet to name new storms. This has only happened twice in history. 

On Friday, three new storms came to life in a single day: Wilfred – using the last of the traditional names – followed by Alpha and Beta.

“Three Atlantic named storms have formed today: September 18, 2020 – #Wilfred #Alpha #Beta. The only other time on record that the Atlantic had 3 named storm formations on the same calendar day was August 15, 1893,” tweeted meteorologist Philip Klotzbach.

Beta was located about 290 miles east of the mouth of the Rio Grande and about 270 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River as of early Saturday. It was blasting 60 mph winds and moving north at 8 mph.

“On the forecast track, the center of Beta will slowly approach the Texas coast into early next week,” the National Hurricane Center said Saturday morning.

Beta promoted a storm surge watch for areas along the Texas and Louisiana coasts, as well as a tropical storm watch from south of Port Aransas, Texas, to the mouth of the Rio Grande, and from east of High Island, Texas, to Morgan City, Louisiana. 

The National Hurricane Center predicts up to 4 feet of storm surge. It warned of significant rainfall and flooding along the Texas and Louisiana coasts starting Sunday through at least mid-next week.

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