Storm Hanna grows into hurricane as it heads for landfall on Texas coast

File photo of Tropical Storm Cristobal is seen on a northern track over the Gulf of Mexico in a satellite image taken June 7, 2020. (Reuters)

Storm Hanna on Saturday became the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season and was expected to strengthen further before making landfall on the Texas coast in the afternoon or early evening, forecasters said.

Hanna was about 90 miles (145 km) east-northeast of Port Mansfield, Texas, packing maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, the US National Hurricane Center said.

“Additional strengthening is forecast before Hanna makes landfall later today,” the Miami-based forecaster said, adding that the hurricane will rapidly weaken after it moves inland.

Read more: US forecasters predict ‘above normal’ Atlantic hurricane season

On Friday, residents in several Texas communities in Kleberg County, south of Corpus Christi, were urged to evacuate their homes ahead of Hanna’s arrival.

A storm surge warning in effect from Baffin Bay to Sargent was extendedsouth of the bay to Port Mansfield, Texas. Storm surge up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) was forecast for that area. People were advised to protect life and property from high water.

Tornadoes were also possible on Saturday for parts of the lower to middle Texas coastal plain, forecasters said. A hurricane warning remained in effect for Port Mansfield to Mesquite Bay, and a tropical storm warning was still in effect from Barra el Mezquital, Mexico, to Port Mansfield, Texas, and from Mesquite Bay to High Island, Texas.

Forecasters said Hanna could bring 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain through Sunday night — with isolated totals of 18 inches (46 centimeters) — in addition to coastal swells that could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Hanna will be the second named storm this season to make landfall along the US Gulf of Mexico, after Tropical Storm Cristobal, which hit Louisiana in early June. Hanna could bring a life-threatening storm surge and flash flooding, with up to 15 inches of rain in pockets of southern Texas and northeastern Mexico.

The storm is not expected to affect offshore oil and gas production. Energy companies have not evacuated workers or shut down production from their Gulf of Mexico platforms because of Hanna.

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Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gonzalo was still on track to move across the southern Windward Islands on Saturday afternoon or evening. Gonzalo was moving west near 18 mph (30 kph) with maximum sustained winds at 40 mph (65 kph), the National Hurricane Center said Saturday morning.

Gonzalo is forecast to bring 1 to 3 inches (3 to 8 centimeters) of rain, with isolated totals of 5 inches (13 centimeters). A tropical storm warning was in effect for Tobago and Grenada and its dependencies.

The storm was expected to dissipate by Sunday night or Monday, forecasters said.

Gonzalo and Hanna broke the record for the earliest seventh and eighth Atlantic named storms, respectively, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The previous records were Gert on July 24, 2005, and Harvey on Aug. 3, 2005, Klotzbach said.

Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard and Fay also set records for being the earliest named Atlantic storm for their alphabetic order.

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Last Update: Saturday, 25 July 2020 KSA 17:33 - GMT 14:33
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