Tropical Storm Beta: Growing Gulf storm threatens surge, rain for southwest Louisiana
Tropical Storm Beta formed in the western Gulf of Mexico on Friday, threatening to become a hurricane this weekend that could bring storm surge and heavy rains to southwest Louisiana areas still recovering from Hurricane Laura.
"I think southwest Louisiana is certainly going to be threatened by this storm," said Donald Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles
Beta is moving about 9 mph north-northeast away from the coast of Mexico, with strengthening expected through the weekend, the hurricane center says in its latest advisory.
Beta had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and was located Friday about 280 miles east of the mouth of the Rio Grande.
The north-northeastward movement is expected for the storm through early Saturday, with a slow turn toward the north and then west anticipated over the weekend. Strengthening is forecast during the next few days, and with the storm potentially reaching hurricane strength by Sunday.
Jones said the storm could move northeast along the Texas coast and make landfall near southeast Texas or southwest Louisiana. Because it will be so traveling close to the coast, he said he doesn't believe it will continue to intensify once it's closer to land next week.
But the National Weather Service has said there is low confidence in the track and intensity for Tropical Storm Beta.
The storm is expected to be in the Gulf for the next seven or eight days, Jones said, and it could bring a lot of rainfall to the Gulf coast through next week.
Jones said it's possible the storm could move along the Texas coast toward Louisiana, creating a long-term heavy rain event that would impact the already battered southwest Louisiana area.
Jones said Louisiana will likely be on the east side of the storm, meaning significant storm surge and coastal floods could be a factor in southwest Louisiana. He said Lafayette and Opelousas could also see 7-10 inches of rain.
For south Louisiana, the storm's effect could bring flooding in low lying areas. Tides will be 2 to 3 feet above normal this weekend, with the greatest impact in downtown Cameron, sections of Highway 82 across Cameron and Vermilion parishes, low spots in Intracoastal City, and Delcambre.
The National Weather Service noted that Cameron Parish, Calcasieu Parish, Jefferson Davis Parish, Vermilion Parish, Iberia Parish, and St. Mary Parish are at risk for coastal flooding.
After a depression in the Atlantic intensified Friday into Tropical Storm Wilfred, the hurricane center advisory said "get out the Greek alphabet for the rest of 2020."
All 21 storm names pre-approved for the season by the World Meteorological Organization have been used, so now it's the Greek alphabet - Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Zeta.
Several factors are affecting Tropical Storm Beta, including a cold front moving through the southern states that could bring drier, more stable air into the northern Gulf that would affect its development.
"While it is too early to determine what areas could see direct wind, storm surge, and rainfall impacts from this system, interests throughout the western Gulf of Mexico should monitor the progress of this system and future updates to the forecast," the hurricane center advisory states.