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Beryl Will Be ‘Trial Run’ for This Year’s Hurricane Season

Before making landfall, Hurricane Beryl had already made history as the fastest-growing hurricane to form this early in the season. But experts recommend treating Beryl as the new normal for this upcoming hurricane season.

Before it even made landfall in Matagorda, Hurricane Beryl had already made history as the fastest growing hurricane to form this early in the hurricane season, reaching a Category 5 before the end of June. Although it had weakened into a Category 1 storm before hitting Houston earlier this week, Beryl still managed to flood highways, topple trees, and leave over 2 million Texans without power.

Meteorologist Matt Lanza of Space City Weather said the storm's endurance also surprised him, hardly losing steam in the hours it spent above land. But there's danger in treating a storm like Beryl as an anomaly, Lanza warned. "We should absolutely be treating Hurricane Beryl as a trial run for what could come," he said.

Just because Houston was hit hard and early in this year's hurricane season doesn't mean the city couldn't get hit again, especially in what is expected to be a historically active hurricane season. For that reason, Lanza said residents should fine-tune their hurricane plans, stocking up on supplies when needed or figuring out evacuation routes in the event of a Category 3 storm or higher. "I imagine a lot of people will leave at the first sign of another storm," Lanza said. "On the other hand, some people may have seen that wind...and decided it's not that bad and they'll stay put."

Much has been written about this year's dire hurricane forecast. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration projected 17 to 25 named storms and seven major hurricanes to form this hurricane season between June 1 and November 30. In an ERCOT hearing earlier this year, Texas A&M climate researcher William Baule warned that experts had never before seen conditions so favorable to hurricanes in the Gulf. At the time, Baule estimated there was a 1 in 2 chance that a hurricane would make landfall in Texas. He also estimated there was a 1 in 6 chance a hurricane Category 3 or higher—meaning capable of severe, house-flattening damage—would hit Texas before the season was over.

Now that a hurricane has hit Texas, those odds are not lower, Baule confirmed to Chron Tuesday. Houstonians may be tired, but the Gulf is just getting warmed up. "If this is going to continue to be the favored track for tropical storms and hurricanes, we could absolutely get hit with another one," Lanza added.

On top of coming up with your own hurricane safety plan, Baule recommended that Houstonians tune into their local news outlets, whether it be cable TV, radio, or online, to get real-time updates on extreme weather events as they unfold. "Local reporters tend to follow these things more closely than national oulets," Baule said. Baule also recommended that residents turn on weather alerts on their smartphones, which can sometimes issue tropical storm warnings days in advance.

Baule also acknowledged that this time, city officials and meteorologists were caught a bit off-guard by the damage that Hurricane Beryl wrought, expecting the storm to graze westward of Houston instead of barreling right into the city. "The impacts we saw from this were actually worse than what we expected," Baule said, "but at the same time, it was a pretty modest storm."

"If we have another one, there's a fair chance it would be stronger," Baule added.

(c)2024 the Houston Chronicle. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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