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Beryl regains hurricane strength as it approaches the Texas coast

Beryl regains hurricane strength as it approaches the Texas coast

Beryl regains hurricane strength as it approaches the Texas coast

MATAGORDA, Texas — Beryl strengthened into a hurricane again Sunday night as it headed toward southern Texas, where the storm’s outer bands lashed the coast with increasingly intense rain and winds as residents braced for the powerful storm that had already carved a deadly path across parts of Mexico and the Caribbean.

The National Hurricane Center issued an update at 1 a.m. Central Standard Time, placing the storm about 30 miles (48.2 kilometers) southeast of Matagorda, Texas, and about 95 miles (152.8 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi.

The hurricane’s maximum sustained winds were 80 mph (128.7 kph) as the storm moved northwest at 10 mph (16 kph). A hurricane warning is in effect for the Texas coast from Mesquite Bay northward to Port Bolivar, the center said.

Residents along the Texas coast boarded up their windows and left coastal towns under evacuation orders. The storm was expected to make landfall Monday morning along the mid-Texas coast around Matagorda Bay, an area about 100 miles (161 kilometers) south of Houston, but officials warned the path could still change.

As the storm neared the coast, Texas officials warned Sunday that it could cause power outages and flooding, but they also expressed concern that not enough residents and beachgoers in Beryl’s path had heeded warnings to leave.

“One of the things that we’re a little concerned about is that we’ve looked at all the roads coming off the coast and the maps are still green,” said Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is serving as the state’s acting governor while Gov. Greg Abbott is traveling abroad. “So we’re not seeing a lot of people leaving.”

Tropical storm winds extended 115 miles (185 kilometers) from the center and the hurricane center warned residents to be prepared for possible flash flooding in parts of central, upper and eastern Texas, as well as Arkansas, as the storm gradually turns northward and then northeastward later Monday.

Along the Texas coast, many residents and business owners took typical storm precautions but also expressed uncertainty about the storm’s intensity.

In Port Lavaca, Jimmy May put plywood over the windows of his power company and said he wasn’t worried about the potential storm surge. He noted that his business had escaped flooding in a previous hurricane that brought a 20-foot (6-meter) storm surge.

“In the city, you know, if you’re in the low-lying areas, obviously you have to get out of there,” he said.

At the nearby marina, Percy Roberts showed his neighbor Ken Waller how to properly secure his boat as strong winds swept in from the bay Sunday night.

“This will be the first hurricane I’m going to experience,” Waller said, noting that he’s a little nervous but feels confident following Roberts’ lead. “I’m praying for the best, but I’m hoping for the worst, I guess.”

Beryl, the first storm to become a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic, caused at least 11 deaths as it tore through the Caribbean on its way to Texas. The storm ripped off doors, windows and roofs with devastating winds and storm surge fueled by record-breaking Atlantic heat.

Three times during her week of life, Beryl gained 35 mph (56 kph) in wind speeds in 24 hours or less, the weather service’s official definition of rapid intensification.

Beryl’s explosive growth into a record-breaking early, massive storm is indicative of what warm Atlantic and Caribbean waters and the Atlantic hurricane belt can expect for the remainder of the storm season, experts said.

Texas authorities warned people along the coast to prepare for possible flooding, heavy rain and winds. The hurricane warning extended from Baffin Bay, south of Corpus Christi, to Sargent, south of Houston.

Beryl was shaping up as another potential heavy rain event for Houston, where storms in recent months have knocked out power to the nation’s fourth-largest city and flooded neighborhoods. A flash flood watch had been issued for a wide swath of the Texas coast, where forecasters expected Beryl to dump as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain in some areas.

Storm surges of between 4 and 7 feet (1.22 and 2.13 meters) were forecast for areas around Matagorda. The warnings extended to the same coastal areas where Hurricane Harvey made landfall in 2017 as a Category 4 hurricane, far more powerful than Beryl’s expected intensity by the time the storm makes landfall.

Those looking to catch a flight out of the area found the window of flights closing as Beryl approached. Hundreds of flights from Houston’s two main commercial airports were delayed by mid-afternoon Sunday and dozens more were canceled, according to FlightAware data.

In Corpus Christi, officials asked visitors to shorten their trips and return home as soon as possible. Residents were advised to secure their homes by boarding up windows if necessary and using sandbags to protect against possible flooding.

The White House said Sunday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had sent emergency, search and rescue teams, bottled water and other resources along the coast.

Several coastal counties have called for voluntary evacuations in low-lying areas prone to flooding. Local officials have also banned camping on beaches and urged tourists traveling over the July 4 holiday weekend to remove their recreational vehicles from coastal parks.

Earlier this week, Beryl struck Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane, toppling trees but causing no injuries or deaths before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula.

Before reaching Mexico, Beryl wreaked havoc in Jamaica, Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Three people were reported dead in Grenada, three in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, three in Venezuela, and two in Jamaica.

Gonzalez reported from McAllen, Texas. Associated Press writers Margery A. Beck in Omaha, Nebraska, Hannah Schoenbaum in Salt Lake City and Julie Walker in New York contributed to this article.