Will Beryl threaten the United States? Texas could be close to hurricane’s path


Hurricane Beryl has already brought devastation to parts of the southeast Caribbean and is now raking Jamaica’s southern coast. Forecasters are confident the record-breaking storm will next strike Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. But the more difficult question is what happens to Beryl after that.

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There is a chance the hurricane will get drawn far enough north in the Gulf of Mexico to threaten the Texas coast by late Sunday or Monday. It’s not even out of the question that Beryl gets tugged farther to the north toward Louisiana. But it will probably be a couple more days before Beryl’s ultimate destination is known.

“There remains uncertainty in the track and intensity forecast of Beryl over the western Gulf of Mexico this weekend,” the National Hurricane Center wrote Wednesday. “Interests in the western Gulf of Mexico, including southern Texas, should monitor the progress of Beryl.”

Forecast track scenarios

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Hurricane Center’s forecast cone — or predicted area where the storm center could plausibly track — included much of southern Texas and northeast Mexico.

Computer model simulations also suggest this is the zone where Beryl is most likely to travel.

After crossing the Yucatán on Friday, Beryl is expected to emerge into the Bay of Campeche in the southwest Gulf of Mexico on Friday night. That’s when forecast confidence drops off markedly.

If Beryl is a weak system, it will be more inclined to continue heading west, probably making landfall over the weekend in Tamaulipas, Mexico, which is the state just south of the Texas border.

If Beryl remains stronger, however, then it could take a more northerly track toward Texas or even Louisiana. Stronger storms with taller thunderstorms tend to feel the effects of high-altitude steering currents more than weaker storms. There is a dip in the jet stream expected to enter the central United States, which could help scoop Beryl to the north.

Another consideration in the track forecast is the strength and position of a high-pressure system over the southern United States. If the high-pressure system remains strong, its clockwise circulation will keep steering Beryl west toward Mexico. But if it weakens enough and/or shifts to the east, it will make it easier for the jet-stream dip in the central United States to pull the storm northward.

Computer model simulations are split among those that steer Beryl on a more southerly track toward northeast Mexico and those that point it more toward the Texas coast between South Padre Island and Houston.

If the storm gets pulled north toward the U.S. Gulf Coast, it’s unclear how strong it will become. The storm will certainly lose strength crossing the Yucatán Peninsula; the Hurricane Center projects it will weaken into a tropical storm.

But once the storm enters the southwest gulf, it will probably restrengthen into a hurricane Saturday into Sunday, fueled by very warm waters.

Even if Beryl makes landfall in northeast Mexico, it could still produce dangerous surf, significant rainfall and strong winds in southern Texas.

The National Weather Service forecast office in Brownsville, Tex., urged residents to monitor the progress of the storm.

“With any tropical system possibly making landfall about 80 miles south of Brownsville, heavy rain with possible flooding, strong winds with damage and power outages, isolated tornadoes, and high surf with severe beach erosion (at the local beaches) is a distinct possibility,” it wrote. “To what extent these things occur will be determined by the size and strength of Beryl once she makes her final landfall.”