Beryl briefing: Tropical force winds expected Sunday

(Courtesy of National Weather Service in Brownsville)
Only have a minute? Listen instead
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

In a mid-morning webinar briefing on Hurricane Beryl on Friday, National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith said the storm was moving across the northern Yucatan Peninsula and was expected to weaken to a tropical storm before entering the southwestern Gulf of Mexico around sunset.

However, Beryl was also expected to regain hurricane strength as it makes a turn toward the northwest by Saturday night or Sunday morning and nears the northeastern Mexican and lower Texas coasts, he said.

“There is a slow trend toward a more northward turn, which places the Texas coast rather than the northeast Mexican coast, at greater risk,” Goldsmith said.

He described the storm as a relatively compact cyclone, with 39-mph winds extending only 90 to 120 miles from the center at landfall.

“In other words, little wobbles matter,” Goldsmith said. “Any shift in track to the west or east will have significant differences on impacts to the lower Texas coast.”

A shift further east would confine impacts mainly to coastal communities in the form of dangerous high surf and tidal run-up to the dunes, while a shift back west would significantly increase the impact of storm surge to the coast, wind potentially west all the way to I69C/US 281, and flooding rain in urban and/or poor drainage areas, he said.

Storm surge and hurricane watches were in effect for the coastal region by 4:30 p.m., when Goldsmith held a follow-up webinar, noting that the storm’s track was continuing to shift east, increasing the likelihood that impacts would not extend far inland beyond the immediate coastal area.

“Potential impacts will become better defined over the next 24 hours,” he said. “A lot will depend on the actual track, since Beryl is expected to remain a relatively compact cyclone.”

Bracing for Beryl: RGV cities, counties continuing sandbag distributions

Although Beryl has weakened considerably from its previous Category 5 strength due to wind shear in the western Caribbean and was expect to weaken to a tropical storm Friday, the system is well organized and expected to remain that way, Goldsmith said.

“Very warm waters and potentially lower wind shear across the western Gulf could allow the cyclone to intensify quickly by Sunday,” he said.

Goldsmith said the most likely time of arrival of tropical-storm-force winds for the lower Texas coast is Sunday evening, and inland along or east of I69C/US 281 overnight Sunday. The potential for flooding rain, high winds (possibly a tornado) is expected Sunday afternoon or evening through Monday, Goldsmith said.

Amistad and Falcon reservoirs, still at or near record low levels, unfortunately will not be replenished by Beryl, he said.

On June 3, Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. declared Cameron County an “area of disaster due to the imminent threats attributed to Hurricane Beryl.”

“Residents are encouraged to take the necessary precautions to remain safe,” he said.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez issued a similar declaration late Friday.