Storm Beryl Wreaks Havoc Across Southern U.S. and Caribbean

At least eight people were killed in the southern United States after storm Beryl felled trees and caused heavy flooding, before being downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone on Tuesday. As millions in the Houston area remained without power and sweated under a heat advisory, President Joe Biden expressed concern over the sweltering temperatures, calling it “the greatest concern.”

Beryl entered Texas from the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane early Monday. The storm claimed seven lives in Texas, with an additional fatality in neighboring Louisiana, authorities reported. The total death toll has risen to at least 18 after Beryl tore through the Caribbean last week, reaching Category 5, the highest recordable strength.

Approximately 2 million households in Texas were without electricity on Tuesday evening due to damaged power grids, even as temperatures were forecast to reach 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius) with humidity factored in. Biden emphasized the urgency of addressing power outages and extreme heat impacting Texans.

In Louisiana, 14,000 homes also faced power outages. Air-conditioned shelters were set up while crews worked to restore service.

Beryl weakened on Tuesday and headed northeast through the Midwest United States with 30 mph (45 kph) winds. The US National Hurricane Center warned of potential flooding and tornadoes. Houston, home to 2.3 million people, experienced significant damage from hurricane-strength winds and flooding.

Tragic incidents included the deaths of a 53-year-old man and a 74-year-old woman from fallen trees, a lightning strike igniting a fire, and a police department employee dying in floodwaters.

Beryl first impacted Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as a Category 4 storm, then intensified to Category 5 before striking Mexico. The storm left a deadly toll across the Caribbean, with fatalities in Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Venezuela, and Jamaica.

Beryl’s early and intense formation underscores the growing impact of climate change on storm patterns, scientists say.