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Ports closed as Tropical Storm Beta eyes Gulf Coast (with forecast video)

Tropical Storm Beta, the 24th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, will likely flood areas of the Gulf Coast this week.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Tropical Storm Beta, Monday, Sep. 21, 2020, 5 a.m. EDT

Beta is spinning over the western Gulf of Mexico, drifting toward Texas. It will probably make landfall near the San Antonio Bay, Texas, area Monday night.

With prolonged rainfall and storm surge in the forecast, some ports in Texas have already closed. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, these ports are Houston, Freeport, Victoria, Galveston and Texas City. They are under port condition Zulu, which means the ports are closed to all inbound and outbound traffic. Other restrictions regarding loading and unloading of cargo may also apply and are the discretion of the captain of the port (COPT). These restrictions may occur at Louisiana ports later this week.

It’s not clear as of Monday morning how long the ports may stay closed. Once Beta makes landfall, it will move slowly along the Texas coast for at least a couple of days before it curves toward southern Louisiana and the lower Mississippi Valley. Beta’s slow movement is why significant flash flooding and some river flooding will be the main issues and primary threats. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued flash flood watches for these areas, and the National Hurricane Center (NHC) ha issued a tropical storm warning from Port Arkansas, Texas to Morgan City, Louisiana.

Periods of torrential rainfall through Friday will total 5 to 10 inches from the central Texas coast to parts of southern Louisiana. Some spots could see up to 15 inches. This amount of rainfall, plus 3 to 5 feet of storm surge, will cause flash flooding and potential road closures on the Interstate 10 corridor. However, secondary routes closer to the coast will likely be most at jeopardy. This may include sections of U.S. Highway 90 that were flooded by Hurricane Sally in late August.

Inland areas of the Arklatex region and lower Mississippi Valley could see up to 5 or 6 inches of rainfall this week and minor to moderate flooding.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.