This year’s Atlantic hurricane season has been so active, forecasters are almost out of names so now they will be moving on to the Greek alphabet.
With parts of the Alabama coast and Florida Panhandle still reeling from Hurricane Sally, a hurricane watch was in effect early Saturday for a 300-mile stretch of Texas coast as Tropical Storm Beta gathered strength in the Gulf of Mexico.
At least two deaths were blamed on Sally, which roared ashore on Wednesday morning, and hundreds of thousands of people were still without power early Saturday.
Beta, which is expected to reach hurricane strength by Sunday, is among three active storms in an exceptionally busy Atlantic hurricane season.
At 7 a.m. CDT, Beta was about 290 miles east of the mouth of the Rio Grande, moving north at 8 mph with sustained winds of 60 mph.
As the tropical storm pushed toward the Texas coast, the National Hurricane center issued a Hurricane Watch along a 285-mile stretch of coast from Port Aransas to High Island. The center said hurricane conditions were possible in the watch area by late Monday or Monday night.
A storm surge watch was in effect from Port Mansfield, Texas to High Island; and a tropical storm watch from south of Port Aransas to the mouth of the Rio Grande, and east of High Island to Morgan City, Louisiana.
More: Florida deputy uses resident’s boat to save about 120 people trapped in Sally floodwaters
Storms Alpha and Beta form: Hurricane season 2020 has been so busy, we have to use Greek letters
Wind, heavy rainfall and life-threatening surf and rip current conditions were also expected with the storm.
As storms rapidly formed in the Atlantic this season, forecasters quickly ran out of their list of names and had to begin using the Greek alphabet to designate storms for only the second time since the 1950s.
Alpha was a post-tropical cyclone Friday night after bringing rain to Portugal. Tropical Storm Wilfred remained at sea but was 830 miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands with maximum sustained winds at 40 mph.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Teddy remained a powerful hurricane into Saturday, with maximum sustained winds at 130 mph. Teddy was centered 695 miles southeast of Bermuda less than a week after Hurricane Paulette made landfall in the wealthy British territory.
Large swells from Teddy were forecast to impact the Lesser Antilles, the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas, and later Saturday were to spread to Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast.
Areas along the Florida panhandle were still coping with the effects of Hurricane Sally. In Escambia county, where Pensacola is located, county administrator Janice Gilley said Friday that power outages were causing accidents on the roadways as drivers ignored four-way stop rules. “Please, please, please, do not be on the roads if it’s not an emergency, and you don’t have to,” she said.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said people should only leave their homes to get fuel or food or if it is an emergency.
“If you’re out looking at damage and devastation, you are part of our problem right now,” Morgan said. “Stay at home unless you’re out getting food or gas for your generators and your vehicles. Stay at home. Do not leave unless it is an emergency situation, and in that case, call us. All of our ambulances and those sorts of things are up and running.”
Contributing: Jim Little, Pensacola News Journal; Associated Press
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