Tropical Storm Beta spurs hurricane watch for Texas, expected to strengthen

Tropical Storm Beta churning in Gulf

A hurricane watch was in effect early Saturday for coastal Texas as Tropical Storm Beta gains strength in the Gulf of Mexico during an exceptionally busy Atlantic hurricane season.

The hurricane watch was issued from Port Aransas, Texas, to High Island, Texas. Storm surge watches and tropical storm watches are also in effect for various areas.

Both the city of Galveston and Galveston County on Saturday issued voluntary evacuation orders ahead of Tropical Storm Beta, as did the city of Seabrook to the north of Galveston.

Mayor Pro Tem Craig Brown said in a statement that high tides and up to 10 inches 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 245 miles south-southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 330 miles east-southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, with maximum sustained winds at 60 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a Saturday evening advisory. Forecasters said the storm was expected to become a hurricane on Sunday.

Forecasters were predicting up to 4 feet of storm surge along parts of the Texas coast that included Baffin Bay, Corpus Christi Bay, Galveston Bay and more. Wind, heavy rainfall and life-threatening surf and rip current conditions were also expected with the storm.

Swells generated by Beta and a cold front are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters ran out of traditional storm names on Friday, forcing the use of the Greek alphabet for only the second time since the 1950s.

Alpha was a post-tropical cyclone Friday night after bringing rain to Portugal. Tropical Storm Wilfred remained at sea and was over 1,400 miles east of the Lesser Antilles with maximum sustained winds at 40 mph.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Teddy remained a powerful hurricane into Saturday, with maximum sustained winds at 130 mph. Teddy was centered 435 miles southeast of Bermuda less than a week after Hurricane Paulette made landfall in the wealthy British territory. Large swells from Teddy were forecast to impact the Lesser Antilles, the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas, and later Saturday were to spread to Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast.

Parts of the Alabama coast and Florida Panhandle were still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Sally, which roared ashore on Wednesday. At least two deaths were blamed on the system, and hundreds of thousands of people were still without power late Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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