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Tropical Storm Beta expected to become a hurricane this weekend

Tropical Depression 22 has strengthened into Tropical Storm Beta and will likely bring heavy rainfall along the Texas Coast.

HOUSTON — Tropical Storm Beta is now in the Gulf of Mexico and it's expected to be a big rainmaker, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The forecast track for the Gulf system remains uncertain. It could become a Category 1 hurricane over the next few days and will likely bring heavy rain along the Texas Coast.

As of the 7 p.m. Friday update from the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Beta had 40 mph sustained winds with gusts at 50. It was moving to the north-northeast at 9 mph. It's 280 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Rio Grande.

1.  Beta is expected to strengthen and possibly become a hurricane, while moving slowly over the western Gulf of Mexico during the next few days.

2. There is an increasing risk of heavy rainfall and flooding along the northwest Gulf Coast Sunday through at least the middle of next week as Beta is forecast to move slowly toward and along or offshore of the coast through that time. For additional information, see products from your local National Weather Service office.

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3.  While it is too early to determine what areas could see direct wind and storm surge impacts from Beta, interests throughout the western Gulf of Mexico should monitor the progress of this system and future updates to the forecast. Storm Surge and Tropical Storm or Hurricane watches could be issued tonight or Saturday. 

In Houston, we can't say for sure what this tropical disturbance means for our local forecast. You will see in the forecast images below the European spaghetti models bring heavy rainfall to the Southeast Texas coast early next week, but these models will continue to change. We'll want to watch this closely through the weekend.

The Houston area and Southeast Texas are expected to get a "cool front" on Friday that should help steer away any tropical development. (About that cool front: it will still be warm this weekend, but Houston's weather will feel much nicer thanks to lower humidity. View Houston's forecast here.)

Tropical Storm Beta forecast cone

Credit: KHOU


Gulf Coast rainfall forecast (Euro model)

Credit: KHOU 11
4 a.m. forecast cone Tropical Depression 22 in the Gulf of Mexico | Friday, Sept 18, 2020

4 p.m. Friday update from the National Hurricane Center:

Interests along the western Gulf of Mexico coast should monitor the progress of the depression.

DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK

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At 400 PM CDT (2100 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Beta was located near latitude 24.3 North, longitude 93.1 West. Beta is moving toward the north-northeast near 9 mph (15 km/h), and this general motion is expected through Saturday. A slow westward motion is forecast to begin late Saturday or Saturday night, and this motion will likely continue into early next week. On the forecast track, the center of Beta will approach western coast of the Gulf of Mexico Sunday night and Monday.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 40 mph (65 km/h) with higher gusts. Additional slow strengthening is expected through the weekend, and Beta could be near hurricane strength Sunday or Sunday night.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles (165 km) from the center.

The estimated minimum central pressure is 1004 mb (29.65 inches).

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

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SURF:  Swells are expected to increase and reach the coast of Texas and the Gulf Coast of Mexico over the weekend, generated by a 

combination of the depression and a cold front entering the northern Gulf of Mexico.  These swells are likely to cause

life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Be prepared if tropical weather does come our way

BEFORE THE STORM

  • Make a home inventory
  • Have a current copy of your declarations page that has your policy number and your agent's number
  • Review your policy with your insurance agent to determine if you have adequate coverage
  • Repair loose boards, shingles, shutters and downspouts to prevent them from becoming an issue in high winds or torrential rain
  • Have an evacuation plan, and include plans for your pets
  • Make sure your emergency equipment is in working order, including a battery-powered radio, flashlights and extra batteries. Also, make sure to gather all medicine, replenish your first-aid kit and stock a week's worth of non-perishable food and water
  • Charge your cell phone and fill your car with gas
  • Program all emergency phone numbers

DURING THE STORM

  • If you are advised to evacuate, leave as soon as possible. Retain all related receipts - they may be considered in your claim. If you aren't in a recommended evacuation and you plant to stay home, stay informed by listening to weather alerts
  • Keep windows and doors closed at all time, and, if possible, board them up with wooden or metal shutters
  • Stay away from the windows and in the center of the room, or, stay in an interior room
  • Avoid flood water, as it may be electrically charged from downed power lines
  • Check on family members and friends

RELATED: Follow these food safety tips during a hurricane or flood

AFTER THE STORM

  • Check to be sure your family members are safe
  • If you did evacuate, wait for official notice that it is safe to re-enter your neighborhood and your house
  • Document damaged property, and take photos and videos. Don't dispose of any damaged items without approval
  • Keep a record of any temporary repairs or expenses to prevent further damage to your property