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Hurricane Beryl leaves thousands in Texas without power

Will Wade, Bloomberg News on

Published in Weather News

More than 1.5 million homes and businesses in Texas lost power after Hurricane Beryl made landfall in the state, bringing howling winds and driving rain that knocked out electric lines.

The storm made landfall shortly before 4 a.m. local time Monday near Matagorda, between Houston and Corpus Christi, as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of about 80 miles (130 kilometers) per hour. The U.S. National Hurricane Center is warning people of the risk of flash floods as the system moves north through the state.

About 1.54 million customers in the state were without power as of early Monday morning, according to PowerOutage.us. Most of those homes and businesses are served by CenterPoint Energy Inc. As recently as April, data from Whisker Labs Inc. showed that the utility operated the most stressed local power grid in the country.

Flights are being canceled in Houston, which was pounded with heavy wind and rain. Beryl will also cause interruptions to Texas facilities for liquefied natural gas, and European natural gas prices rose in response during trading Monday. Some oil operations are also at risk for disruption.

Parts of Texas have already received as much a nine inches (23 centimeters) of rain, and Beryl may end up dumping a total of 15 inches in some areas, according to David Roth, a meteorologist with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center. The heaviest rainfall will focus on southeast Texas, including Houston, and in areas within about 50 miles of the coast.

Even though Beryl is now ashore, Roth warned that some of the most dangerous weather can come from the bands that trail the eye of the storm. Because the track of the system is bending to the northeast, that means Houston and coastal areas to the south are at risk of drenching rain that can trigger floods.

“The environment doesn’t get much worse than in the wake of a tropical cyclone,” Roth said in an interview Monday. “Southeast Texas is the real problem today.”

 

The Port of Houston has been shut down and Houston officials are warning people to stay off the roads and be avoid windows and balconies because of high winds.

“There’s a lot to be wary of,” Roth said.

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(With assistance from Brian Wingfield, Kevin Crowley and Dan Murtaugh.)

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