Texas, which was already struggling with an increase in coronavirus cases, prepared for the first Atlantic hurricane of 2020 on Saturday after storm Hanna. Meteorologists warned of heavy rain, storm surge and potentially life-threatening flash floods.
The storm, with wind speeds of 130 kilometers per hour (80 miles per hour), intensified overnight into a Category 1 hurricane and is expected to land in the afternoon or early evening, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
It could bring storm surges of up to five feet and drop up to 18 inches of rain on parts of southern Texas, the NHC said, warning of dangerous flash floods.
Hanna was about 85 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas at 10:00 a.m. local time (1500 GMT) and was moving west at about seven miles an hour, an NHC consultant said.
It is expected that there will be a slight turn later in the day. "It should land on the Texas coast in the hurricane warning area this afternoon or tonight," the report said.
Storm warnings were in effect early Saturday on the Texas Gulf Coast. In Corpus Christi, a city of 325,000 people, officials closed libraries and museums to prepare for the storm, local media reported.
Hanna will roar ashore as Texas is already facing an enormous increase in coronavirus infections. Officials have introduced a nationwide mask mandate to curb the spread of the disease.
Two other storm systems swirled around on Saturday: Pacific Hurricane Douglas in the Hawaiian Islands and tropical storm Gonzalo in the Atlantic near the Windward Islands.
Douglas – once a strong Category 4 hurricane – has weakened into a Category 2 storm with wind speeds of 105 mph.
The NHC said on Saturday that the storm would weaken further as it approaches Hawaii, "possibly dangerously close or over the islands late into the night until Sunday evening," which brings strong winds and surf.
Hurricane warnings were in effect in the Hawaii and Maui counties and on Oahu on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Gonzalo rained heavily on the Windward Islands, but the tropical storm was expected to weaken and dissolve until Sunday evening.