Hanna nears hurricane strength, headed for Texas coast

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Miami, July 25 (BNA): Tropical Storm Hanna is nearly hurricane strength as the system moves toward the Texas coast, and is expected to bring heavy rain, storm surge and possible tornadoes, all while another tropical storm approaches the Caribbean, the Associated Press (AP) reported.


Maximum sustained winds increased to 70 mph (110 kph) Saturday morning, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a Saturday morning update on Hanna. The storm was centered about 115 miles (180 kilometers) east-southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas and was moving west at 9 mph (15 kph).


A storm surge warning in effect from Baffin Bay to Sargent was extended south of the bay to Port Mansfield, Texas. Storm surge up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) was forecast for that area. People were advised to protect life and property from high water.


Tornadoes were also possible Saturday for parts of the lower to middle Texas coastal plain, forecasters said. A hurricane warning remained in effect for Port Mansfield to Mesquite Bay, and a tropical storm warning was still in effect from Barra el Mezquital, Mexico, to Port Mansfield, Texas, and from Mesquite Bay to High Island, Texas.


Forecasters increased rainfall expectations, saying Hanna could bring 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain through Sunday night — with isolated totals of 18 inches (46 centimeters) — in addition to coastal swells that could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.


Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gonzalo was still on track to move across the southern Windward Islands on Saturday afternoon or evening. Gonzalo was moving west near 18 mph (30 kph) with maximum sustained winds at 40 mph (65 kph), the National Hurricane Center said Saturday morning.


Gonzalo is forecast to bring 1 to 3 inches (3 to 8 centimeters) of rain, with isolated totals of 5 inches (13 centimeters). A tropical storm warning remained for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tobago and Grenada and its dependencies. The storm was expected to dissipate by Sunday night or Monday, forecasters said.


Gonzalo and Hanna broke the record for the earliest seventh and eighth Atlantic named storms, respectively, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The previous records were Gert on July 24, 2005, and Harvey on Aug. 3, 2005, Klotzbach said.


Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard and Fay also set records for being the earliest named Atlantic storm for their alphabetic order.


AOQ