Beryl Bears Down on Texas, Where It Is Expected to Hit after Regaining Hurricane Strength

A drone view shows homes near the sea as tropical storm Beryl continues to move through the Gulf of Mexico, in Playa Bagdad, Mexico July 6, 2024. (Reuters)
A drone view shows homes near the sea as tropical storm Beryl continues to move through the Gulf of Mexico, in Playa Bagdad, Mexico July 6, 2024. (Reuters)
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Beryl Bears Down on Texas, Where It Is Expected to Hit after Regaining Hurricane Strength

A drone view shows homes near the sea as tropical storm Beryl continues to move through the Gulf of Mexico, in Playa Bagdad, Mexico July 6, 2024. (Reuters)
A drone view shows homes near the sea as tropical storm Beryl continues to move through the Gulf of Mexico, in Playa Bagdad, Mexico July 6, 2024. (Reuters)

Beryl was hurtling across the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico on a collision course with Texas, forecast to pick up strength and regain hurricane status before nearing the coast Sunday and making landfall the following day with heavy rains, howling winds and dangerous storm surge.

A hurricane warning was declared for a large stretch of the coast from Baffin Bay, south of Corpus Christi, to Sargent, south of Houston, and storm surge warnings were also in effect. Other parts were under tropical storm warnings.

“We’re expecting the storm to make landfall somewhere on the Texas coast sometime Monday, if the current forecast is correct,” said Jack Beven, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. “Should that happen, it’ll most likely be a Category 1 hurricane.”

As of Saturday night, Beryl was about 330 miles (535 kilometers) southeast of Corpus Christi and had top sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center. It was moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

The earliest storm to develop into a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic, Beryl caused at least 11 deaths as it passed through the Caribbean earlier in the week. It then battered Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane, toppling trees but causing no injuries or deaths before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula.

Texas officials warned people along the entire coastline to prepare for possible flooding, heavy rain and wind.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is acting governor while Gov. Greg Abbott is traveling in Taiwan, issued a preemptive disaster declaration for 121 counties.

“Beryl is a determined storm, and incoming winds and potential flooding will pose a serious threat to Texans who are in Beryl’s path at landfall and as it makes its way across the state for the following 24 hours,” Patrick said Saturday in a statement.

Some coastal cities called for voluntary evacuations in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding, banned beach camping and urged tourists traveling on the Fourth of July holiday weekend to move recreational vehicles from coastal parks.

Mitch Thames, a spokesman for Matagorda County, said officials issued a voluntary evacuation request for the coastal areas of the county about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Houston.

“Our No. 1 goal is the health and safety of all our visitors and of course our residents. I’m not so much worried about our residents. Those folks that live down there, they’re used to this, they get it,” Thames said.

In Corpus Christi, officials asked visitors to cut their trips short and return home early if possible. Residents were advised to secure homes by boarding up windows if necessary and using sandbags to guard against possible flooding.

Traffic has been nonstop for the past three days at an Ace Hardware in the city as customers buy tarps, rope, duct tape, sandbags and generators, employee Elizabeth Landry said Saturday.

“They’re just worried about the wind, the rain,” she said. “They’re wanting to prepare just in case.”

Ben Koutsoumbaris, general manager of Island Market on Corpus Christi’s Padre Island, said there has been “definitely a lot of buzz about the incoming storm,” with customers stocking up on food and drinks.

In Refugio County, north of Corpus Christi, officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for its 6,700 residents.

Before hitting Mexico, Beryl wrought destruction in Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados. Three people were reported dead in Grenada, three in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, three in Venezuela and two in Jamaica.



Moonlit Scramble across the Sand for Türkiye Booming Baby Turtle Population

Baby loggerhead sea turtles' first challenge in life is a wobbly dash across the sand. KEMAL ASLAN / AFP
Baby loggerhead sea turtles' first challenge in life is a wobbly dash across the sand. KEMAL ASLAN / AFP
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Moonlit Scramble across the Sand for Türkiye Booming Baby Turtle Population

Baby loggerhead sea turtles' first challenge in life is a wobbly dash across the sand. KEMAL ASLAN / AFP
Baby loggerhead sea turtles' first challenge in life is a wobbly dash across the sand. KEMAL ASLAN / AFP

The baby loggerhead sea turtles emerged from their eggshells and began their first challenge in life: a wobbly dash across the sand to the moonlit waters of Türkiye’s Mediterranean coast -- sometimes with a helping hand from volunteers.
It is a perilous journey into the unknown for the sea turtles as only about one in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood.
Some 25 years later, the females will return to the beach where they were born to lay their own eggs.
Despite grave threats from humans and predators such as birds, crabs and ants, protection measures are bearing fruit on Türkiye's southern coast.
In Manavgat, a tourist hotspot nestled in the foothills of mountains and prized for its golden sands and stunning waterfall, the number of nests has doubled from last year to 700.
A group of volunteers holds vigil around the clock along the 10-kilometer (six-mile) coastline, located east of the local tourism capital of Antalya.
It is a major breeding area for the globally endangered loggerheads -- also known as caretta caretta -- which are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) red list of threatened species.
"Our average estimate this year is around 60,000 eggs; 30,000 of them will become babies; only 30 of them will come back years later" to breed, Seher Akyol, founding president of DEKAFOK marine conservation center, told AFP.
Red lights
Türkiye's southern coast is home to 21 official nesting areas -- eight of them in Antalya alone.
Protection measures have been put in place such as limiting the use of light and the speed of sea vessels.
Many beaches are declared protected areas and are off-limits from 8 pm to 8 am.
Manavgat, though, is not one of them, so volunteers have taken on the task of protecting the breeding nests.
Akyol's volunteers, including young students from all over Türkiye and abroad, mark the nests, framing them with sticks and keeping the eggs protected from sunbathers.
At night, they patrol beaches, dig in nests with their bare hands and, donning white gloves, help baby turtles break from their shells and crawl to the sea.
Local officials also support volunteer initiatives.
Manavgat's mayor, Niyazi Nefi Kara, has placed red lights on roadsides along the coast. Signs that read "Attention! Caretta Nesting Area" dot the beach.
Under the environment law, anyone who damages sea turtles and their nests can be fined 387,141 liras ($11,700).
Kara said his office takes advice from "scientists and environmentalists" on protecting the turtles.
"After all, we need to learn how to live in harmony with nature," he said.
Akyol added that "people and caretta caretta can live together".
Songul Sert, 33, who was picnicking with her family around a wooden table near the beach, said "we do our best so as not to usurp their living space" with help from the signs.
Another local, Hasan Gulec, said that previously a lack of signs meant that "nobody knew where they were breeding, so anyone could walk on nests".
However, an AFP team saw some hotels along the beach still using the bright white lights that anger environmentalists.
-Climate change-
Loggerheads, whose overall numbers are unknown, can live for up to 80 years. Their weight ranges from 90-180 kilograms (200-400 pounds) and they can reach 1.2 meters (four feet) in length.
The small percentage of hatchlings that return to the beach to breed is why "they are endangered and need to be protected," Professor Mehmet Cengiz Deval of Akdeniz University's faculty of fisheries told AFP.
Loggerhead sea turtles are found primarily in subtropical and temperate regions of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, and in the Mediterranean Sea.
According to IUCN, the Mediterranean loggerhead is considered of "least concern", though the species remains vulnerable globally.
Climate change is also a factor that threatens the species.
The sex of hatchlings is determined by the temperature of the sand: cooler temperatures produce males and warmer ones produce females.
High temperatures from July onwards means that "most of the babies are females," Deval said.
"If this trend continues, in 30-40 years females will be the majority and there will be no male partners for them to breed. This is the biggest danger."
Akyol, who dreams of building a rehabilitation center to treat injured turtles, cannot hide her excitement each time she sends them off to the water.
"I cannot forget their last look before meeting with the water," she said. "It's as if they show how grateful they are."