Texas lashed by Category 1 Hurricane Hanna

Hurricane Hanna roared ashore onto the Texas Gulf Coast as a Category 1 storm on Saturday.
Hurricane Hanna roared ashore onto the Texas Gulf Coast as a Category 1 storm on Saturday.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Hurricane Hanna roared ashore onto the Texas Gulf Coast as a Category 1 storm on Saturday, bringing winds that lashed the shoreline with rain and storm surge.

The first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season made landfall twice on Saturday afternoon within the span of little over an hour. The first landfall happened at around 5 p.m. about 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of Port Mansfield, which is about 130 miles (209 km) south of Corpus Christi and about 70 miles (113 km) north of Brownsville.

The second landfall took place at around 6:15 p.m. in eastern Kennedy County, about 15 miles (24 km) north-northwest of Port Mansfield. As of Saturday evening, it had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (145 kph).

Steady rain fell Saturday in Corpus Christi and the winds got stronger. The main hazard from Hanna was expected to be flash flooding. Forecasters said Hanna could bring 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain through Sunday night.

South Texas is braced for flooding after Hurricane Hanna began battering the state. Forecasters early Sunday downgraded Hanna to a tropical storm. But Chris Birchfield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Brownsville, told The Associated Press that residents needed to remain alert. Hanna's winds weakened, but the storm's real threat remained heavy rainfall.

"We're not even close to over at this point," Birchfield added. "We're still expecting catastrophic flooding." The storm is expected to bring heavy rainfall to Texas' southern coast with the potential for "life-threatening flash flooding," according to the National Weather Service.

The center warned of storm surges as high as 5 feet along Texas' southern coast and said the upper coasts of Texas and Louisiana could expect 3-5 inches of rain. Isolated tornadoes could also appear.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said earlier in the week that the Texas Division of Emergency Management was preparing teams to help communities affected by the storm. He urged residents in the region to avoid roads that flood and listen to local warnings.

On Saturday, prior to the storm making landfall, Abbott issued a disaster declaration and said he had requested an emergency declaration from President Trump and FEMA, according to a NPR report.

"As Hurricane Hanna approaches, the Lone Star State is taking swift action to support the communities in the path of the storm," Abbott said. "We are closely monitoring the situation and working with local officials to help ensure they have the resources they need to keep Texans safe.

“I urge Texans in the region to take all necessary precautions and follow the guidance of local officials. I ask our fellow Texans to keep these communities in their prayers as they brace for this storm."

As the storm continues to make its path in south Texas, two other storms are being watched closely. Hurricane Douglas is in the Pacific and is expected to either pass nearby or over the main Hawaiian islands sometime Sunday.

The National Hurricane Center warned of a "triple threat of hazards," including heavy rainfall and flooding, damaging winds and dangerously high surf.

Farther to the east and south of the Gulf of Mexico, Tropical Storm Gonzalo was downgraded to a depression Saturday afternoon. The system brought gusty wind to the southern Windward Islands on Saturday morning. The National Hurricane Center also warned of heavy rainfall with the potential for "life-threatening flash flooding" in the area.

Earlier this year, forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an above-average hurricane season with at least three to six major hurricanes in 2020. — Agencies