Tropical Storm Beta slowly moving toward Texas coast; Wilfred now a tropical depression

Paola Pérez, Orlando Sentinel
·7 min read

The National Hurricane Center continues to monitor several storms across the Atlantic basin Sunday, including Hurricane Teddy, Tropical Storm Beta and now Tropical Depression Wilfred.

Tropical Storm Beta, named using the Greek alphabet, continues to slowly churn in the northwestern Gulf Coast toward Texas. This slow motion is expected to “produce a long duration rainfall event from the middle Texas coast to southern Louisiana,” according to the National Hurricane Center.

As of 11 a.m. Sunday, TS Beta was located about 180 miles southeast Galveston, Texas, and about 225 miles east-southeast of Port O’Connor, Texas, with sustained winds of 60 mph. It’s moving west-northwest at 3 mph.

Several warnings in NHC forecasters' key messages on the storms include the danger of life-threatening storm surge along portions of the Texas and Louisiana coasts, and tropical-storm-force winds along portions of the northwestern Gulf Coast.

Tropical Storm Beta currently has tropical-storm-force winds extending out 195 miles. Increasing swells will affect the Texas and Mexico Gulf Coast over the weekend, and are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions, forecasters said.

The NHC issued numerous Storm Surge Warnings in effect for coastal parts of Texas such as Port Aransas to High Island, Texas—including Copano Bay, Aransas Bay, San Antonio Bay, Matagorda Bay, and Galveston Bay.

“A slightly faster motion toward the west-northwest is forecast to occur during the next couple of days, followed by a slow down and a turn to the north and northeast Monday night and Tuesday,” forecasters said. “On the forecast track, the center of Beta will move toward the coast of Texas and will likely move inland Monday or Monday night, and remain close to the coast of southeastern Texas on Tuesday.”

The NHC originally projected Beta to grow at or near hurricane strength over the weekend. A Storm Surge Warning remains in effect from Port Aransas, Texas to Wildlife Refuge, La., as well as a Tropical Storm Warning from Port Aransas to Morgan City, La., and a Tropical Storm Watch from Baffin Bay to Port Aransas, Texas.

"Little change in strength is forecast during the next couple of days before Beta reaches the Texas coast. Weakening is anticipated once Beta moves inland,” forecasters said.

Beta formed out of Tropical Depression 22 on Friday.

Hurricane Teddy

In the mid-Atlantic, Hurricane Teddy has dropped from Category 3 to Category 2 on Sunday morning. It was the second major hurricane of the year, reaching its peak at Category 4 with 140 mph winds on Friday.

At 11 a.m. Sunday, Teddy was still a visibly large hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and higher gusts as it grows closer to Bermuda.

Bermuda, which remains under a Tropical Storm Warning, endured a direct hit from Hurricane Paulette last week.

Teddy is about 300 miles south-southeast of Bermuda. The storm is moving northwest at 9 mph and will approach Bermuda on Sunday night, and the center is expected to pass east of the island Monday morning, according to the NHC. It will then approach Nova Scotia on Wednesday.

“Little change in strength is expected today. Teddy is expected to remain a large and powerful hurricane through Monday, then become a strong post-tropical cyclone on Tuesday,” forecasters said.

Hurricane-force winds extend 80 miles from Teddy’s center and its tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles. Bermuda can expect to see impacts of Teddy’s tropical-storm-force winds tonight.

Rip currents are expected along western Atlantic beaches for several days, the NHC said.

“Large swells generated by Teddy are affecting the Lesser Antilles, the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the east coast of the United States, and Atlantic Canada,” forecasters said. “These swells are likely to cause life- threatening surf and rip current conditions.”

Tropical Depression Wilfred

Tropical Storm Wilfred has weakened down to a depression on Sunday morning. It poses no threat to land.

As of 11 a.m. Sunday, Wilfred was located over the open Atlantic about 1,340 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. It’s heading west-northwest at 20 mph.

NHC forecasters expect Wilfred to weaken to a remnant low within a couple of days. It will slow down in speed as it continues heading west and finally dissipates.

Wilfred first formed Friday morning in the east Atlantic.

Developing systems

The rest of the tropics are still showing signs of activity.

First, Post-Tropical Cyclone Paulette is located a few hundred miles south of the Azores and producing a few showers as of 2 a.m. Sunday. It may develop once more into a tropical system, its chances within the next five days up to 60%.

“This system is drifting southward over marginally warm waters and is expected to begin moving eastward in a couple of days,” NHC forecaster Richard Pasch said. “The cyclone could develop tropical or subtropical characteristics by early next week.”

Second, a small low pressure system just off the east coast of Central Florida is producing a small area of thunderstorms. It’s expected to move inland over the state on Sunday morning, but significant development beyond its current state is not anticipated. Its chances are at a low 10% within next five days.

“Isolated lightning storms will be possible today,” the National Weather Service in Melbourne said Sunday morning. “Remember, all cloud-to-ground lightning strikes can be deadly.”

The agency has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for east Central Florida, including a risk for flooding, high winds and thunderstorms. A Coastal Flood Warning is in effect from southern Brevard County northward, with a Coastal Flood Advisory for the Treasure Coast. Read the agency’s latest advisory here.

The 2020 hurricane season goes Greek

Soon after Tropical Storm Wilfred snagged the last name in the 2020 hurricane list, hurricane specialists had to begin using letters from the Greek alphabet for future storms — something that has only happened once before in 2005. There were a total of 29 named storms that year, requiring the NHC to go six letters deep into the Greek alphabet.

Tropical Storm Wilfred, Subtropical Storm Alpha — which formed off the coast of Portugal — and Tropical Storm Beta in the Gulf of Mexico set a new record when they formed within 24 hours.

Wilfred marked the earliest “W” named storm on record. And the previous Alpha formed in Oct. 22, 2005, making the 2020 storm the earliest formed Alpha on record.

The previous earliest named “W” storm also came in 2005 in the form of Wilma, which cut through Florida as a Category 3 hurricane, brought devastating damages to South Florida and was responsible for power outages in 42 counties, according to a NOAA report. Wilma later developed into a Category 5 storm in the Gulf of Mexico.

Alpha didn’t get very far once it developed. It made landfall Friday night with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph about 120 miles north-northeast of Lisbon. By 11 p.m. Friday, the storm had reached a remnant low status with 30 mph winds southeast of Viseu, Portugal.

The NHC will continue any new named storms using the Greek alphabet. Next on the list would be Tropical Storm Gamma, then Delta, Epsilon and Zeta, the farthest the NHC has ever gone in its use of Greek letters in 2005.

NOAA released a forecast in August predicting the season to have somewhere between 19 to 25 named storms, but there’s a good chance the Atlantic could see a total above the forecast, said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman and meteorologist at the NHC.

"Earlier this season we were asked if we would start using Greek letters for storms, and I told them it wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ but “when” and “how deep into the Greek alphabet we go,” Feltgen said.

The hurricane season officially runs from June 1-Nov. 30, but 2020 saw two storms form before June 1, and still has more than 10 weeks to go.

Orlando Sentinel staff writers Lynnette Cantos, Katie Rice, Joe Mario Pedersen, and Richard Tribou contributed to this report.

More coverage at OrlandoSentinel.com/hurricane.

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