Hurricane Hanna lashes Texas with drenching rain and gales as tornado threat looms – The Sun
HURRICANE Hanna roared ashore onto the Texas Gulf Coast on Saturday, with lashing rain, a storm surge, and the threat of tornadoes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Hanna was upgraded to a hurricane as Texans prepped for dangerous winds and drenching rain, while Hawaiians also braced themselves for a summer tempest.
Hanna – the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season – made landfall at around 5pm CDT about 15 miles north of Port Mansfield, an area about 130 miles south of Corpus Christi and about 70 miles north of Brownsville.
By Saturday evening, it had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph after steady rainfall in Corpus Christi and strengthening winds as an emergency declaration was made for 32 counties.
Many parts of Texas experienced a surge in coronavirus cases recently but local officials said they were prepared for the wild weather.
Tornadoes were also possible today for parts of the lower to middle Texas coastal plain, forecasters said.
The hurricane warning remained in effect for Port Mansfield to Mesquite Bay, while a tropical storm warning was in effect from Port Mansfield south to Barra el Mezquital, Mexico, and from Mesquite Bay north to High Island.
Gov Greg Abbott called on President Donald Trump to declare a federal disaster as the hurricane made landfall on Saturday.
First responders in Corpus Christi placed barricades near intersections to have them ready to go if streets began to flood as more than 35,000 people throughout South Texas – including Corpus Christi, Harlingen and Brownsville – were without power.
Abbott said Saturday that some sheltering would take place in hotel rooms so people could be separated.
“We cannot allow this hurricane to lead to a more catastrophically deadly event by stoking additional spread of COVID-19 that could lead to fatalities,” he said.
The governor declared multiple counties disaster zones hours after Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez implored him to send urgent state resources.
“The County of Hidalgo, Texas is facing significant threats to life, health and property due to the impact of Hurricane Hanna," stated the letter, cited by the The Brownsville Herald.
"With the expectation of dangerous to catastrophic flooding, dangerous high winds and torrential rains on July 25-26, 2020.
“I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capability of the local jurisdiction to control. …
The USA geared up for two hurricanes at once – hours after the US National Hurricane Center announced the upgrade, making Hanna the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season.
The grim weather warning comes as both states contend with mounting coronavirus cases, a situation described as "a potential disaster inside of a current disaster" this weekend.
On Friday, a hurricane warning was issued for parts of the Texas coast, where several communities were urged to evacuate before Hanna hit.
Kleberg County, south of Corpus Christi, asked residents of Loyola Beach, Ricardo and Riviera, Texas, to voluntarily evacuate amid flood warnings.
Hanna could bring five to 10 inches of rain and coastal swells – which forecasters say could lead to life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Yesterday, the US National Hurricane Center said Hanna was centered about 195 miles east of Corpus Christi in their 4pm advisory, with maximum sustained winds of around 50mph and moving west at 10mph.
The record-breaking Storm Hanna was the earliest eighth Atlantic named storm, said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.
A potential disaster inside of a current disaster.
He tweeted that this title was previously held by Harvey on August 3, 2005. But there are also the lack of hurricane shelters to contend with.
"Remember… we’re in a potential disaster inside of a current disaster," Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales said, according to KXAN.
Brittany Eck with the Texas General Land Office urged hard-hit Texans to ask friends or relatives if they could stay at their homes before resorting to a shelter ahead of Abbot's announcement that some people could be placed in hotel rooms.
Eck said masks, gloves and hand sanitizer should be added to the to-go bag this year to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in small spaces.
“If you think about it, Hurricane Harvey was the same letter as Hanna’s and Hurricane Harvey hit in August, late August the 24th," Eck added.
"So we have already had a very active hurricane season. Now we haven’t had a major storm yet, but we do predict three to six major storms this year and any one of those could hit Texas."
Mexican authorities were also keeping a close eye on Hurricane Hanna's progress its northeastern-most states took precautions.
Elsewhere, Category 3 Hurricane Douglas was 785 miles southeast of Hilo, hurtling to maximum sustained winds of 115 mph in Hawaii by midday on Friday.
Meteorologists predicted strong winds, heavy rainfall and dangerous surf as Trump approved a Disaster Declaration for the state on Saturday afternoon.
When it nears the eastern end of Hawaii, Douglas is expected to be either a Category 1 hurricane or a strong tropical storm – sparking land slides and flash floods.
A hurricane watch for the Big Island and Maui County was issued by The National Weather Service within the next 36 to 48 hours.
I never thought in 30 years of doing this I'd be answering medical questions," said John Cummings, the public information office for Honolulu Emergency Management of the combined problem of coronavirus and a storm.
Shelter space is very limited in-state and people have been urged to shelter at home.
Much like the storm situation in Texas, Hawaiians have been urged to seek refuge with friends and family, only opting for a city-run shelter as a last resort.
Evacuees will have their temperatures checked at these facilities but even exposed people – who have been quarantining – can go to a shelter if they're unsafe at home.
There, they'll be isolated or taken elsewhere, according to Cummings.
But to incorporate social distancing guidelines, shelters have to now allow for 60 square feet per person or family, said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who cited the need for more space and staff.
Hawaiian officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are considering sheltering these people from the storm in the hotel rooms lying empty as a result of coronavirus but nothing has been decided or confirmed.
Caldwell asked residents to do a 14-day grocery shop for poorer people who can't afford it due to the mass unemployment.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gonzalo was hurtling towards the Caribbean on Friday.
It was moving at 18 mph with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph about 390 miles east of the southern Windward Islands, according to the National Hurricane Center.
People living on the Windward Islands have been warned to monitor the tropical storm, which is set to hit on Saturday and could bring 2 to 5 inches of rain.
Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tobago and Grenada and its dependencies have all been issued with tropical storm warnings.
This affects St Lucia, Tobago and Grenada. Forecasters said Gonzalo.
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