Tropical Storm Beryl Skips Texas


Tuesday, August 15th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — The sheriff had gone to bed and the county's emergency management center was empty as a weakening Tropical Storm Beryl pushed inland and began spinning itself out.

The National Weather Service canceled hurricane and tropical storm warnings for South Texas during the night, although a tropical storm warning remained in effect Tuesday from the border south to Tampico, Mexico.

By daybreak, the weakening storm was moving inland over Mexico, but locally heavy showers were sweeping across South Texas. Flash flood warnings were in effect.

It had dropped no more than 2 inches of rain by early morning and its sustained wind had slowed to 40 mph, the weather service said.

``It was a weak system to begin with and it didn't have enough time over water to organize itself,'' forecaster Scott Wigginton said.

At 7 a.m., the storm was moving toward the west-northwest at about 8 mph over northeast Mexico, about 130 miles southwest of Brownsville. It was forecast to weaken to a tropical depression later Tuesday.

Beryl was declared a tropical storm Monday morning when its sustained wind reached 40 mph. But by evening it had strengthened to only about 50 mph — hurricane strength is sustained wind of at least 75 mph.

Its eye crossed the coast at 1 a.m. CDT Tuesday about 75 miles north of La Pesca, Mexico, the weather service said.


Evacuating South Padre Island
AP/Joe Hermosa [24K]
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Across South Texas on Monday, residents had prepared for the worst.

Emergency workers filled thousands of sandbags, bolted government offices and dusted off generators. Homeowners nailed plywood over windows and loaded cars with batteries and candles. Seaside parks locked their gates and government documents were hauled to waterproof storage.

Residents of South Padre Island were instructed to head for the mainland. At its highest, the town on Padre Island is only 16 feet above sea level.

Outside Brownsville, residents of low-lying shantytowns were urged to seek shelter. About 20,000 people live in the rural neighborhoods, known for flimsy construction, inadequate drainage and severe flooding.

Shop owners scrambled to lock their doors early, and a line of recreational vehicles clogged the bridge connecting Padre Island to the mainland.

``I just finished boarding up my bottom windows,'' said Cindi Carroll. En route to a store to buy batteries and bottled water, she stopped by a Padre Island beach to watch the surf pound the sand. ``I just wanted to check it out, to see how bad it looks.''

Elsewhere, Hurricane Alberto gradually lost strength Monday as it moved over cooler water in the North Atlantic and was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Alberto, west of the Azores Islands, west of Portugal, had sustained winds of 70 mph, down from 115 mph. Additional weakening was forecast over the next several days.

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On the Net:

Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

Hurricane Central: http://www.weatherpoint.com/hc/home/0,1916,oso,00.html

Texas Department of Emergency Management: www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem

Storm 2000: http://www.gopbi.com/weather/storm