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Hurricane Beryl Ravages Southeast Texas and Louisiana, Killing Seven and Leaving Millions Without Power

Hurricane Beryl Ravages Southeast Texas and Louisiana, Killing Seven and Leaving Millions Without Power

At least seven people have died, and nearly three million are without power after Hurricane Beryl struck southeast Texas and Louisiana. Beryl made landfall early Monday morning in Matagorda, Texas, as a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph (129 kph). The storm brought heavy rain, destructive winds, and dangerous storm surges, causing significant damage and widespread power outages.

Seven fatalities were reported in Texas’s Harris and Montgomery counties, including a 53-year-old man and a 73-year-old grandmother who died when trees fell on their homes. A Houston police employee drowned attempting to drive through high water, and a lightning-induced house fire claimed another life. In Montgomery County, a man was killed by a falling tree while driving a tractor, and two homeless individuals died when a tree fell on their tent. In Louisiana, a woman was killed in Benton when a tree fell on her home.

Approximately 2.6 million customers in Texas and 30,000 in Louisiana were without power as of Monday night. Over 1,100 flights were canceled at Houston’s main airport. The storm caused substantial flooding in Houston, a low-lying coastal city prone to such events. Wind speeds in the area reached 75 mph (120 kph) with gusts up to 87 mph.

Beryl is expected to weaken as it moves north-northeast, but flash flooding and heavy rain remain concerns. Tornadoes are also possible in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, shifting to other states on Tuesday. More than 2,500 emergency responders, including Texas National Guard members, have been mobilized to assist with recovery efforts. Beryl is projected to move east across the central United States, bringing rain to areas like Mississippi but skipping drought-affected central and west Texas.

Beryl was the earliest recorded Category 5 hurricane and has been one of the most powerful to hit the Caribbean, impacting areas like St Vincent, Grenada, and Jamaica. While specific storms are complex to link directly to climate change, unusually high sea surface temperatures likely contributed to Beryl’s strength. This is the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic season, with up to seven major hurricanes predicted for the year, significantly above the average of three.

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