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Waves crash as Hurricane Beryl strikes, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, July 5, 2024. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Waves crash as Hurricane Beryl strikes, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, July 5, 2024. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Beryl Rakes Mexico on Potential Path to Texas

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July 5, 2024

By Brian K. Sullivan and Peter Millard

(Bloomberg) — Tropical Storm Beryl’s winds weakened as it battered Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula after leaving a trail of destruction through the Caribbean that may reach $5 billion in damages. Texas officials urged coastal residents to prepare for potential impacts early next week.

Beryl’s top winds dropped to 70 miles (113 kilometers) per hour after it made landfall early Friday just northeast of Tulum with 110 mph winds, the US National Hurricane center said in an 2 p.m. New York time advisory. The storm is forecast to become a hurricane again by Sunday. Watches and warnings for the eastern Yucatan south of Cabo Catoche have been dropped.

As it crosses the Gulf of Mexico, Beryl will draw draw power from the warm ocean water before it makes a second landfall in northern Mexico or southern Texas near Brownsville early Monday, the hurricane center said.

Some Texas counties have issued voluntary evacuation orders in low-lying areas, the Associated Press reported. In Corpus Christi, city officials said they distributed 10,000 sand bags in less than two hours on Friday, exhausting its supply.

Mexico reported no preliminary deaths or injuries after the hurricane made landfall. The city of Tulum faced power outages, with about 40% of users without electricity, said Laura Velázquez Alzúa, Mexico’s national coordinator for civil protection. The airports of Cancun and Tulum had no initial reports of damage and over 2,000 residents were in temporary shelters in the area, she said via video at a press briefing early Friday.

Beryl will likely cost at least $5 billion, with damages in Mexico alone rising to $1 billion, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research. The larger issue is that for many of the smaller nations affected by Beryl, the losses will be a large percentage of their gross national products.

“That’s huge for many of these small island nations,” he said.

AccuWeather is currently calling for Beryl to hit northern Mexico or southern Texas as a Category 1 hurricane between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. local time on Monday, said Tyler Roys, a meteorologist for the commercial forecaster. However, the storm’s track has been drifting north, which could give it a chance to stay over warm Gulf waters longer and therefore get stronger.

“It would not shock me if there is further intensification,” Roys said. “Right now we are with Category 1, but if the trend continues and the track sneaks a little further north, there could potentially be more funny business going on with intensification. It is something we are watching.”

The other potential danger is that Beryl could bring heavy rains across eastern Texas, an area that was already drenched earlier this year, leaving the ground saturated, he said. The flood risks for the region may be high.

Storms have been known to wither and die after crossing the Yucatan, but they can also gain a deadly burst of strength. Hurricane Harvey exploded into a Category 4 storm in 2017 after nearly being destroyed traversing the peninsula.

It’s still too early to say exactly where Beryl will make its second landfall, Philippe Papin, a specialist at the hurricane center, wrote in an analysis. “The average NHC track error at day 3 is around 100 miles,” he said. “It remains too soon to pinpoint where the largest impacts will be.”

Beryl has already hammered the Caribbean, and earlier this week it achieved a rare Category 5 strength. It was the earliest Atlantic storm to do so, signaling an unusually active hurricane season as hot ocean waters fuel tropical systems. The storm lost some of its power after sweeping westward past Grenada and Jamaica, but still left widespread damage.

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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