Tropical Storm Beta formed in the Gulf of Mexico, where it could menace the south Texas coast as a hurricane next week.
Beta has winds of 60 miles (95 kilometers) per hour and was about 305 miles east of the mouth of the Rio Grande, the U.S.National Hurricane Center said in anadvisory at 11 p.m. New York time. The NHC issued hurricane watches for a portion of the Texas coast from Port Aransas to High Island, saying that it expects the storm to become a hurricane on Sunday.
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In a sign of how intense this hurricane season has been, two tropical storms already formed in the Atlantic earlier Friday. A system in the eastern Atlantic became Tropical Storm Wilfred, the NHC said, though it’s not yet clear whether the storm will threaten land. A subtropical storm that emerged near Portugal was dubbed Alpha, because the hurricane center has reached the end of its list of names for 2020 storms. The center has only resorted to the Greek alphabet once before, in 2005.
Beta is the 23rd storm to take shape in the Atlantic, making this year the second most-active season in records going back to 1851.
While its exact track is still uncertain, if Beta came ashore in Texas it would be the ninth storm to hit the U.S. this year, tying a record set in 1916, said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the Colorado State University seasonal forecast. The 2020 summer has brought a string of natural disasters across the U.S., from hurricanes and tropical storms, a derecho that left wreckage from Iowa to Indiana, and fires in the West that have killed dozens of people.
Beta will close in on Texas just a week after slow-moving Hurricane Sally unleashed floods across Alabama and Florida. It will bring heavy rain across the region as it nears the coast.
“We’re dealing with another crawling storm and potentially a very big rainfall anywhere from the south Texas to mid-Texas coast early next week,” said Dan Kottlowski, a hurricane forecaster withAccuWeather Inc.
A large high-pressure system will develop in the eastern U.S. and play havoc with Beta’s track, Kottlowski said. The storm is trying to move north, but “as a result of this high building in, it puts up a wall.”
This will keep the storm meandering around the western Gulf of Mexico for days, where it could get stronger, and its forward motion will remain slow, he said. Depending on how the larger steering currents form, it could strike in Texas or slip away and hit Louisiana. In addition, it could pose a threat to the western half of theoffshore oil and natural gas platforms, which have been evacuated and shut several times already this year, said Jim Rouiller, lead meteorologist with the Energy Weather Group.
Exxon Mobil Corp. said it has evacuated personnel from the Hoover oil platform in the Gulf and will continue to adjust operations as needed, whileBHP said workers are being evacuated from its Shenzi and Neptune platforms.
While Beta bears down on Texas and Mexico, Wilfred churns in the eastern Atlantic and Alpha came ashore in Portugal, a fourth, more powerful system is inching toward Bermuda. Hurricane Teddy should make its closest pass to the island by Monday, a week after Hurricane Paulette came ashore there. If Teddy make landfall, it will be the second time since 2014 two systems hit Bermuda in a week’s time.
After it closes in on Bermuda, Teddy is forecast to drive due north and strike Nova Scotia Wednesday, possibly even hitting near Halifax and Dartmouth, which is home to the Canadian Hurricane Centre. There are two other potential storms also churning in the Atlantic.
— With assistance by Max Zimmerman
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