Texas power outages top 2 million as Beryl pounds state

Will Wade, Bloomberg News on

Published in Weather News

More than 2.5 million homes and businesses in Texas lost power and at least one person was killed after Hurricane Beryl made landfall in the state, bringing howling winds and driving rain that knocked out electric lines.

Most of the outages are in Houston and areas to the southeast that are close to where the storm made landfall shortly before 4 a.m. local time. The city is now facing tornado threats, wind gusts as high as 80 miles per hour (129 kilometers per hour), as much as eight inches (20 centimeters) of rain and flooding that has left some of major highways underwater.

Beryl is the latest weather disaster to strike Houston this year after a derecho in May blasted skyscraper windows. It’s in Harris County, which has been the riskiest county in the U.S. for weather since 1980. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick declared a disaster in 121 counties, including Harris, in advance of the storm.

“We’ve had trailers blown over, lots of trees falling down, even a tree falling down and killing someone,” said meteorologist Wendy Wong, with the National Weather Service in Houston.

More than 80% of those without power are customers of CenterPoint Energy Inc., according to As recently as April, data from Whisker Labs Inc. showed that the utility operated the most stressed local power grid in the country. The company warned customers Monday that outages could last several days.

Flights are being canceled at Houston airports, while a nearby liquefied natural gas facility ramped down operations until the storm passed. European natural gas prices rose in response during trading Monday. Some oil operations are also at risk for disruption.

Before striking Texas, Beryl crashed through the Caribbean, raking across Jamaica and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and causing at least 11 deaths. Record warm ocean waters in the Atlantic helped fuel the storm, which was the earliest known to reach Category 5, the strongest level on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

The storm is now plowing northeast across the state, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center is warning people of the risk of flash floods.

Parts of Texas have already received as much as nine inches 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 on shore, Roth warned that some of the most dangerous weather can come from rain 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 avoid windows and balconies because of high winds.

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


(With assistance from Brian Wingfield, Kevin Crowley, Dan Murtaugh, Rafaela Jinich, Tope Alake, Joe Carroll and Naureen S. Malik.)


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