Hurricane Hanna was threatening the Texas coast on Saturday, with the storm set to bring heavy rains, coastal floods and possible tornadoes — all while the state struggles with a surge of coronavirus cases.
Hanna was upgraded from a tropical storm on Saturday morning, becoming the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
The storm was expected to continue strengthening before its expected landfall on Saturday afternoon or evening along the Texas coast, the hurricane center said.
It is expected to start weakening as it moves inland.
On Saturday morning, Hanna’s maximum sustained winds increased to 75 mph. It was centered about 100 miles east to southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas and was moving west at 9 mph.
Corpus Christi is in Nueces County, which made national headlines when health officials said several dozen infants tested positive for the coronavirus from July 1 to July 16.
“Don’t feel like since we’ve been fighting COVID for five months, that we’re out of energy or we’re out of gas. We’re not,” Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb said Friday. “We can do these two things together and we’re going to win both of them.”
Farther south in Cameron County, which borders Mexico, more than 300 confirmed new cases have been reported almost daily for the past two weeks, according to state health figures. The past week has also been the county’s deadliest of the pandemic.
Hanna’s rain “may result in life-threatening flash flooding, rapid rises on small streams, and isolated minor to moderate river flooding in south Texas,” the Hurricane Center said. The hurricane is expected to bring 6 to 12 inches of rain, with isolated maximum totals of 18 inches, through Sunday night to areas in south Texas and the Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and northern Tamaulipas.
Between 3 and 5 inches of rain are expected along northern parts of Texas and some Louisiana coasts. Hanna is also expected to caused dangerous surf and rip current conditions along the Texas and Louisiana coasts.
Parts of the lower to middle Texas coastal plain could possibly face tornadoes caused by Hanna one Saturday and early morning Sunday.
The area where Hanna is expected to make landfall in Texas has been dealing with a recent spike in coronavirus cases, but officials have said they are prepared for whatever the storm may bring.
FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor said his agency is has been in constant communication with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott “to offer our support & coordinate response efforts.”