Texas coast on alert as Tropical Storm Hanna arrives

Residents along the Texas Gulf Coast on Friday afternoon were bracing for a hit from Tropical Storm Hanna, which was looming about 230 miles east of Corpus Christi.

Hanna was packing 50 mph winds and moving west over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico at a speed of 9 mph. Tropical storm warnings were in effect across a large portion of the Texas Gulf Coast as the storm spun closer to land. A hurricane warning was also issued for Corpus Christi and surrounding areas, the first hurricane warning for this part of the Texas coast since August of 2017 before Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

AccuWeather forecasters predict Hanna will make landfall sometime on Saturday.

“We expect the system to make landfall as a solid tropical storm along the central Texas coast sometime during the day on Saturday,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said, adding that near Corpus Christi is where the storm will come ashore, possibly about 45 miles south of there in Baffin Bay, Texas.

Sosnowski also cautioned that there’s a chance Hanna could strengthen into a hurricane, and become the Atlantic basin’s first of the year now that Tropical Storm Gonzalo is encountering conditions unfavorable for much strengthening.

“Considering that water temperatures are well into the 80s along its path, Hanna has a chance of rapidly strengthening prior to landfall on Saturday and could become a hurricane before doing so,” Sosnowski said.

“At the very least,” Sosnowski added, “Hanna will likely be a strong tropical storm at landfall with wind gusts to at least 70 mph.”

AccuWeather forecasters have rated the storm a 1 on the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes, a more nuanced method the company introduced in 2019 to assess the potential damage a tropical system could cause.

Due to Hanna’s strengthening throughout the day on Friday and the nature of the forecast, officials in Texas were preparing for impact. Authorities in Corpus Christi shut down the beaches at noon on Friday ahead of the storm’s arrival. Police and lifeguards could be seen ushering people off the beaches there, AccuWeather’s Bill Wadell reported. The fire department was preparing crews for swift-water rescues and residents were filling sandbags.

There have been other active tropical storm duos in the Atlantic since 2000, including Cindy and Dennis in 2005, Franklin and Gert in 2005, Bertha and Cristobal in 2008 and Cristobal and Dolly in 2008. Additionally, Dolly from 2008 was the last tropical storm to make landfall in the Lone Star state during the month of July, Klotzbach said. More recently, Bret and Cindy were both active storms in the Atlantic during the 2011 hurricane season.

Three tropical storms that proceeded Gonzalo — Cristobal, Edouard and Fay — had also been the earliest storms of their respective letters.

And over in the Pacific basin, Hurricane Douglas, the Western Hemisphere’s first hurricane of 2020, had exploded to Category 4 strength by Thursday night and was packing 130-mph sustained winds. Douglas since weakened to a Category 3 storm with 120-mph winds as it charged toward the Hawaiian Islands. AccuWeather meteorologists expect Douglas to weaken considerably before impacting Hawaii. But, the storm added to what is a stunning satellite image showing just how busy the tropics were during the third week of July. Douglas, Gonzalo and Hanna were all visible in one shot on an AccuWeather radar image.

Photo Credit : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tropical_Storm_Hanna_(2002).jpg

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