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Tropical Storm Beryl is expected to re-strengthen on its way to drench Texas

A man and his dog stand on the shore of a beach in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl in Tulum, Mexico, on Friday, July 5, 2024.
Fernando Llano
A man and his dog stand on the shore of a beach in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl in Tulum, Mexico, on Friday, July 5, 2024.

Updated July 05, 2024 at 16:19 PM ET

Beryl has turned its wrath on Mexico and is headed for the Gulf of Mexico, weakened but still dangerous after tearing through a series of Caribbean islands in recent days. The tropical storm is expected to strengthen once again before targeting Texas.

The National Hurricane Center says Beryl made landfall as a Category 2 storm just east of Tulum on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula shortly after 6 a.m. ET on Friday. It weakened throughout the day, and by midafternoon it was downgraded to a tropical storm.

“Continued weakening is expected as Beryl crosses the Yucatan Peninsula today, but re-intensification is expected once the center moves back over the Gulf of Mexico,” the NHC said in its 2 p.m. ET update.

Maximum sustained winds dropped from Category 2 hurricane-force speeds nearing 110 mph to 70 mph at that time, when Beryl was located about 65 miles east of Progreso, Mexico, and some 650 miles east of Brownsville, Texas.
The NHC is forecasting dangerous winds, a storm surge of 1 to 3 feet and damaging waves as the storm moves inland across the northern Yucatan Peninsula during the day. It says the region could see 4 to 6 inches of rain, with up to 10 inches in some areas.

"Residents there should shelter in place until these life-threatening conditions subside," the NHC said on X, formerly Twitter.

The stretch of coastline from Catoche to Campeche was under a tropical storm warning. All watches and warnings south of Cabo Catoche, including in Cancun, were lifted.

Evacuations in Mexico as Texas prepares

Cancun, home to beaches and Mayan ruins, is a popular vacation destination. Some 3,000 tourists were evacuated from Isla Mujeres back to the mainland on Thursday, according to Reuters, which also reports that at least 100 flights out of Cancun's international airport were canceled that day.

The Mexican government issued a "red alert" ahead of Beryl's arrival, calling on people to stay either in their homes or at storm shelters. It also hurried to evacuate sea turtle eggs from its beaches.

Access to a beach remains closed ahead of Hurricane Beryl's arrival in Cancun, Quintana Roo State, Mexico, on Thursday.
Elizabeth Ruiz / AFP
Access to a beach remains closed ahead of Hurricane Beryl's arrival in Cancun, Quintana Roo State, Mexico, on Thursday.

"No hesitating. Material things can be recovered. The most important thing is life," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wrote on X.

Beryl is expected to emerge over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on Friday night and move toward northeastern Mexico and southern Texas by the end of the weekend, bringing heavy rainfall with it.

"There is an increasing risk of hurricane-force winds, life-threatening storm surge and flooding from heavy rainfall in portions of northeastern Mexico and the lower and middle Texas coast late Sunday and Monday," NHC forecasters said.

The NHC also warns that the risk for rip currents along Gulf Coast beaches will increase "even far away from the forecast track" as Beryl moves over water. It says rip currents could cause "life-threatening beach conditions" beginning late Friday and through the weekend across much of the coast.

"Beachgoers should heed warning flags and the advice of lifeguards and local officials before venturing into the water," it adds.

Texas Public Radio reports that state and local officials are beginning to take precautionary measures, even as the center of the storm remains hundreds of miles away.

Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to increase the readiness level of the state's emergency operations center starting Friday morning. Cameron County issued a voluntary evacuation notice to people with recreational vehicles in certain county parks, and officials in Hidalgo County, Brownsville and Corpus Christi scheduled precautionary sandbag distribution events this weekend.

"As Texans and visitors around the south coastal areas begin to celebrate our nation's Independence Day, I urge them to make an emergency plan, review hurricane evacuation routes, and continue to monitor weather conditions to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones," Abbott said Thursday.

The historic hurricane has blazed a trail of destruction across the Caribbean

Beryl hit Jamaica as a Category 4 storm late Wednesday, lashing the island with more than 12 hours of rain.

The storm tore roofs off homes, sent trees into roadways and left some 60% of the island without electricity, The Associated Press reports. Over a thousand residents remained in shelters as of Thursday.

Journalist Nick Davis told NPR's All Things Considered from Kingston on Thursday that authorities' immediate concern is getting power to essential services, like water and telecommunications.

"It's going to take days, even weeks, possibly, to be able to get parts of this country back on its feet," he said. "The big cities will probably get power — Montego Bay and Kingston — first. But in the rural communities, it's going to take a while."

Jamaican authorities say a woman died after a house collapsed on her and a young man died after he was swept into a storm water drain while trying to retrieve a ball, per the AP.

That brought Beryl's total confirmed fatalities to at least nine: Three people were reported killed in Grenada and Carriacou, one in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and three in northern Venezuela, where at least four people remain missing after floods triggered by heavy rain.

An aerial view of a home where the roof was blown off is seen after Hurricane Beryl passed through the area in Saint Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica, on Thursday.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images
Getty Images
An aerial view of a home where the roof was blown off is seen after Hurricane Beryl passed through the area in Saint Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica, on Thursday.

The storm passed just south of Grand Cayman Island early Thursday, sparing residents serious damage but knocking out power to thousands of customers. It strengthened back into a Category 3 storm later that day as it churned toward Mexico, but weakened before making landfall.

Beryl burst onto the radar as the most powerful hurricane ever recorded this early in the Atlantic hurricane season, a distinction earned with the help of climate change.

It wrought extensive damage across several southeastern Caribbean islands earlier this week.

It battered the coast of Barbados, destroying or damaging some 200 fishing vessels, before continuing on to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada as a Category 4 storm on its way to Jamaica and Mexico.

At least three of the Grenadine Islands report more than 90% of their homes and buildings having been destroyed or severely damaged, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday.

Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell described the destruction of buildings and agriculture on Carriacou and Petite Martinique as "almost Armageddon-like" in a news conference on Tuesday.

"There is literally no vegetation left anywhere on the island of Carriacou; the mangroves are totally destroyed, the boats and the marinas significantly damaged," he said, according to USA Today. "There is almost complete destruction of the electrical grid system in Carriacou. The entire communication system is completely destroyed."

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Union Island — some 3 miles long and 1 mile wide, and home to about 3,000 residents — saw about 98% of its buildings damaged or destroyed, including its hospital and airport control tower.

"Union is a field of devastation," Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said in an Instagram video from a helicopter surveying the damage. "It's only the odd building that is not severely damaged or destroyed.”

Copyright 2024 NPR

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.