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Flood warning for Beryl sweeping across the USA

A flood warning was issued in several US states on Tuesday as tropical depression Beryl hits the south of the country with heavy rains after at least four people were killed in Texas.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that as Beryl spreads across much of the United States through Wednesday, it could bring flash flooding “from the lower and middle Mississippi Valley to the Great Lakes”.

A tornado is also possible in parts of the south on Tuesday, the NHC said in its latest warning.

Beryl’s credit rating was downgraded Monday night after the hurricane hit Texas as a Category 1, leaving millions without power in the scorching summer heat.

The sprawling city of Houston, home to 2.3 million people, was hit hard by hurricane-force winds and flooding early Monday morning. Authorities announced at least four deaths in connection with the storm.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said on X that a 53-year-old man and a 74-year-old woman were killed in two separate incidents when trees fell on homes.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire later said at a press conference that one person had died because a lightning strike had probably started a fire, while a police officer had died in the floods on his way to work.

According to tracker poweroutage.us, around 2.6 million households in Texas have been without power since Monday evening as temperatures of over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) were forecast for the next few days.

Rose Michalec, 51, told AFP that Beryl had torn down fences in her south Houston neighborhood.

“For a Category 1 storm, that’s pretty significant damage… It’s more than we expected,” she said.

In downtown Houston, several areas were completely flooded, including the park where 76-year-old Floyd Robinson usually takes walks.

“I’m seeing more of this kind of harmful water than ever before,” the Houston native told AFP.

“It is only the beginning of July and a storm of this strength is very rare here,” he added.

Along the Texas coast, AFP journalists saw several waterfront homes and buildings with their roofs ripped off by the wind.

Several communities in the region had issued voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders before the storm.

– Route through the Caribbean –

Meanwhile, the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office in neighboring Louisiana announced a death, also caused by a tree falling on a house.

Monday’s deaths bring the total death toll from the storm, which began its journey across the Caribbean as a powerful hurricane more than a week ago, to over a dozen.

Beryl first hit Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a Category 4 storm before passing the Cayman Islands and Jamaica and temporarily strengthening into a Category 5 storm.

It hit Mexico on Friday as a Category 2 hurricane, snapping trees and lampposts and tearing off roof tiles; however, no deaths or injuries were reported there.

Beryl is the first hurricane on record to reach Category 4 in June and the first to reach the highest Category 5 in July.

According to expert Michael Lowry, it is also the first hurricane to reach Texas in a decade.

It is extremely rare for such a powerful storm to form so early in the Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts from early June to late November.

Scientists believe climate change is likely playing a role in the rapid intensification of storms like Beryl, as they have more energy available to them as food in a warmer ocean.

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, North Atlantic waters are between two and five degrees Fahrenheit (one to three degrees Celsius) warmer than normal.

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FOX28 Spokane©