Tropical Storm Harold made landfall on Padre Island, Texas, on Tuesday morning after forming in the Gulf of Mexico overnight, capping an extraordinarily busy 48 hours for an Atlantic hurricane season that saw three other storms form in quick succession.
Harold had already started to pummel parts of southern Texas with heavy rain, and was expected to deliver up to 6 inches of rainfall in isolated areas through early Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.
The storm had already delivered up to 2 inches of rain in several places, including at Corpus Christi International Airport, said Bob Oravec, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Around 7 inches had fallen on Mustang Island, east of the airport, he said.
“It’s moving very quickly,” Oravec said, noting that he did not anticipate the heavy rainfall to last that long.
Meteorologists said the storm made landfall around 10 a.m. local time on Padre Island, a popular tourist area known for its beaches. Videos posted to social media appeared to show darkening skies and palm trees and street signs teetering in the wind. By 1 p.m., the core of the storm had moved inland, forecasters said. Harold was moving west-northwest at around 21 miles per hour toward southern Texas and northern Mexico, they said. Several areas remained under tropical storm warnings and watches.
Harold, which follows the storms Emily, Franklin, and Gert, is the first storm of the Atlantic hurricane season to make landfall.
More than 1.2 million people along the eastern coast of Texas were under a tropical storm warning as of around 1:30 p.m. local time, according to the weather service. Close to 35,000 people in the state were without power, according to poweroutage.us.
Another tropical storm, Hilary, lashed the West Coast over the weekend. Of the three other storms to form since Sunday, only Franklin was expected to remain a threat to land into Tuesday, with tropical storm warnings issued for the southern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Harold had sustained winds near 45 miles per hour, with higher gusts, the hurricane center said. Tropical disturbances that have sustained winds of 39 miles per hour earn a name. Once winds reach 74 miles per hour, a storm becomes a hurricane, and at 111 miles per hour it becomes a major hurricane.
Tropical storm conditions, including tropical storm-force winds that could lead to some damage and power outages, and a 1- 3-foot storm surge from the mouth of the Rio Grande to Sargent, Texas, are possible. Tornadoes are also likely across southern Texas through the afternoon.
There is at least some risk of excessive rains that produce rainfall amounts of 3-5 inches across southern Texas which could lead to isolated flooding, especially in areas with more complex terrain. Given the preexisting dry conditions across the region, the rains will likely be beneficial for many areas but excessive for some, given their intensity, forecasters with the Weather Prediction Center said.
The heavier rain will likely fall across northern Coahuila and northern Nuevo Leon in Mexico. Rainfall amounts of 4-6 inches and isolated amounts up to 10 inches are possible through Wednesday, especially across the mountainous terrain.
The Atlantic hurricane season started on June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.
In the Southwest, crews in mountain and desert towns worked to clear away mud and debris in the aftermath of the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years.
The system was dissipating as it moved over the Rocky Mountains.
Hilary dumped record rainfall over California’s deserts, including in the stark Death Valley that experienced its single-rainiest day on record on Sunday.
As Hilary moved northeast into the neighboring state of Nevada, flooding was reported, power was out and a boil-water order was issued for about 400 households in the Mount Charleston area, where the only road in and out was washed out. The area is about 40 miles west of Las Vegas.
Hilary first slammed into Mexico’s arid Baja California Peninsula as a hurricane, causing one death and widespread flooding before becoming a tropical storm. So far, no deaths, serious injuries or extreme damages have been reported in California, though officials warned that risks remain, especially in the mountainous regions where the wet hillsides could unleash mudslides.
In one dramatic scene, rescue officials in the desert community of Cathedral City, near Palm Springs, drove a bulldozer through mud to a swamped care home and rescued 14 residents by scooping them up and carrying them to safety, fire Chief Michael Contreras said.
It was one of 46 rescues the city performed between late Sunday night and the next afternoon from mud and water standing up to 5 feet.
Also in Los Angeles, a succession of power outages at a medical center prompted the evacuation of 28 patients in critical condition to other hospitals, while 213 other patients were moved to another building in the center, authorities said.
The power failure blacked out Adventist Health White Memorial’s main six-story building, disabling elevators, said fire Chief Kristin M. Crowley. More than 100 firefighters and numerous ambulances were dispatched to the facility east of downtown.
The building includes OB-GYN and neonatal intensive care, Crowley said.
“All patients are safe,” John Raffoul, the hospital president, said at a press conference.
The hospital originally lost power at 3 a.m. Monday after Tropical Storm Hilary dumped record rainfall on the city, and backup generators that were supposed to last three days kicked in, Raffoul said.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.