Both Texas and Hawaii are bracing for hurricanes this weekend as storms began making their way toward the states Friday night.
Tropical Storm Hanna is currently gaining strength as it moves across the western Gulf of Mexico toward the coastal bend area near Corpus Christi, Texas, where the National Hurricane Center says the storm may land as a hurricane.
“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the NHC said, noting Hanna currently has wind speeds of up to 50 mph. The center issued a hurricane warning on Thursday night, which indicates people should be prepared for a storm to hit in the next 24 hours.
“We’re thinking this is mainly a heavy rain and flash flood event,” National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Reilly said on Friday evening, adding, “some elevated tides will cause some coastal flooding, especially as you get down south of Sargent down into the Matagorda Bay area.”
Meanwhile, Hurricane Douglas, a Category 3 storm heading toward Hawaii, is expected to weaken over the next day before making landfall on the islands Saturday evening or Sunday morning, likely as a Category 1 hurricane. A hurricane watch is in effect for Hawaii and Maui counties. The storm’s current maximum sustained wind speeds are near 115 mph.
The threat of the storms is compounded by worsening COVID-19 outbreaks in both Hawaii and Texas, making any use of communal shelters and other evacuation plans potentially dangerous. Hawaii set a record high for COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row on Friday with 60 new infections statewide. Nearly all of those new cases are on Oahu, which is expected to be hit by Douglas this weekend.
The situation is worse in Texas, where both storm prospects and the coronavirus outbreak are more severe.
“If you’re anywhere on the Texas coast right now between Corpus Christi and Port Arthur – including metro Houston – start thinking about how Covid affects your family’s evacuation plan,” meteorologist Eric Holthaus tweeted earlier this week about the impending storm.
Texas has tallied more than 64,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last week and is among the worst-affected states right now.