Hurricane Hanna
Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Hanna 2020-07-25 2200Z.png
Hurricane Hanna at peak intensity making landfall in Texas on July 25
FormedJuly 23, 2020 (July 23, 2020)
DissipatedJuly 27, 2020 (July 27, 2020)
Highest winds1-minute sustained: 90 mph (150 km/h)
Lowest pressure973 mbar (hPa); 28.73 inHg
Fatalities5 total
Damage$875 million (2020 USD)
Areas affectedCuba, Hispaniola, Gulf Coast (mainly Texas), Mexico
Part of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Hanna was the first Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in Texas in the month of July since Dolly in 2008. The eighth named storm and first hurricane of the extremely active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, Hanna developed from a tropical wave originating near Hispaniola. This disturbance dropped heavy rain over parts of Hispaniola, Cuba, and Florida. The wave gradually became more organized and developed into a tropical depression in the central portion of the Gulf of Mexico. The depression strengthened into a tropical storm on July 24, setting a new record for earliest eighth-named storm in the basin, getting its name 10 calendar days before the previous record holder, Tropical Storm Harvey of 2005. Hanna steadily intensified as it drifted toward Southern Texas, becoming the season's first hurricane early on July 25. It then began to quickly strengthen before making landfall at 22:00 UTC later that day as a high-end Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (150 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 973 mbar (hPa; 28.73 inHg). Hanna weakened quickly as it moved inland and turned west-southwest, eventually dissipating over Mexico on July 27.

Hanna was the first hurricane to make landfall in Texas since Hurricane Harvey in 2017. In Florida, Hanna killed one person due to rip currents. Hanna's outer bands also caused rounds of thunderstorms across parts of the Northern Gulf Coast. Along the way it dumped up to 18 inches (460 mm) of rain in isolated areas in Southern Texas and Mexico. The storm resulted in 50,000+ people losing power. Hurricane Hanna caused minor damage to well built structures, serious damage to smaller structures, and downed powerlines. In Texas, where the storm made landfall, extensive property damage was reported in the Rio Grande Valley especially in Port Mansfield. The brunt of the damage was located south of Corpus Christi due to the eye taking a more southward path than originally forecast. Corpus Christi experienced storm surge flooding and tropical storm-force winds, while areas south of the city experienced hurricane-force sustained winds. In Mexico, severe flooding caused by Hanna killed three people. Overall, Hurricane Hanna was estimated to have caused a total of at least $875 million in damages.[1]

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

During July 19, the NHC marked a tropical wave, located between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, for gradual development over the coming week.[2] The wave drifted generally west-northwest for the next few days while producing a large region of disorganized showers and thunderstorms. After entering the Gulf of Mexico, the wave started to gradually organize and become better defined, with an area of low pressure forming on July 22.[3] During the morning hours of July 23, hurricane reconnaissance aircraft flew into the system, and was able to find that a closed circulation had developed, leading to the classification of the system as Tropical Depression Eight.[4] At 03:00 UTC the next day, banding features became evident within the newly formed system and hurricane reconnaissance aircraft data indicated tropical storm-force winds inside the nascent storm, leading to the upgrade of the storm to a tropical storm, being named Hanna. Upon the naming of Hanna, the storm became the earliest eighth-named storm on record, surpassing Tropical Storm Harvey of 2005 by well over a week.[5]

Hanna continued to steadily intensify as it approached Texas, forming a mid-level eye during the afternoon hours of July 24.[6][7] Hanna continued to steadily strengthen as it moved west towards the southern coast of Texas and at 06:00 UTC on July 25, Hanna became a hurricane after winds of 75 mph (120 km/h) were found within the storm.[8] Hanna strengthened further despite its close proximity to land, developing an eye of 30–35 nmi on radar and satellite imagery. Reaching a peak intensity of 90 mph (150 km/h) and a pressure of 973 mbar, the storm made landfall at Padre Island, Texas, at 22:00 UTC. Hanna made a second landfall in Kenedy County, Texas, 15 miles (25 km) north of Port Mansfield, Texas, at 23:15 UTC. Once inland, Hanna gradually weakened becoming a tropical storm by 06:00 UTC on July 26. Around 12:00 UTC that same day, Hanna continued to weaken as it moved into Northeastern Mexico.[9] Hanna weakened further to tropical depression status while located far into Mexico, and responsibility of advisories was passed to the Weather Prediction Center on July 27.[10] The last advisory by the WPC was later issued that day.[11]

Preparations

Tropical Storm Hanna intensifying over the Gulf of Mexico on July 24

The National Weather Service first issued a tropical storm watch for the coast of Texas between Port Mansfield and High Island at 03:00 UTC on July 23 when Tropical Depression Eight—the precursor to Hurricane Hanna—was first designated.[12][13] The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) organized personnel and assets from state agencies to assist local preparations for the approaching storm.[14] These included search-and-rescue teams from Texas A&M Task Force 1 and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Department of Public Safety also provided aircraft, mainly helicopters, for similar purposes.[15][16][17] Search and rescue and cleanup crews were also readied for Hanna's aftermath.[18] The United States Coast Guard urged mariners to clear the waters off the Texas coast and bring large vessels to safety at inland marinas.[19] While Hanna was not expected to pose a significant threat to the Houston area, local emergency management placed high-water rescue trucks and crews on standby.[20][21] The active tropical storm watch was superseded by a tropical storm warning between Port Mansfield and San Luis Pass at 21:00 UTC on July 23.[22] The next day, a hurricane warning was issued for the Texas coast between Baffin Bay and Mesquite Bay;[23] the warning was later expanded southward to Port Mansfield.[24] Additionally, a tornado watch was issued for a portion of Southeast Texas.[25]

The Padre Island National Seashore and beaches along the Nueces Bay and the Gulf of Mexico around Corpus Christi were closed in anticipation of storm-enhanced tides.[26][27] Both Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi and Del Mar College limited operations amid the storm's passage.[27] Hanna threatened Texas concurrent with an increase in viral cases associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.[28] At least one drive-through testing site for COVID-19 was closed in Corpus Christi in preparation for Hanna while the pandemic limited the amount of emergency management personnel in the Rio Grande Valley.[29][30] Both the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority and the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council cancelled their bus services for two days.[31][27][32] The Port of Corpus Christi closed to all ship traffic on July 24 and Corpus Christi International Airport cancelled most flights on July 25.[33][32]

A local state of disaster lasting seven days was declared by County Judge Richard F. Cortez in Hidalgo County on July 25 due to the threat of "catastrophic flooding." A state of disaster was also declared in Cameron County and San Patricio County.[28][18][34][35][32] Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 32 counties across South Texas later that day shortly before Hanna struck the state.[29][36][18] Abbott also appealed for a federal disaster declaration and public assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).[18] Several counties and municipalities distributed sandbags ahead of Hanna's arrival.[37][38][39] Willacy County officials recommended the evacuation of people from Port Mansfield.[40][41][42] A voluntary evacuation order for Baffin Bay, Loyola Beach, Ricardo, and Riviera was issued by Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid,[43] while a voluntary evacuation was recommended by San Patricio County Judge David R. Krebs for vulnerable areas.[27] Evacuation shelters were opened across the Rio Grande Valley.[44] A FEMA Dome was opened as a shelter in Kingsville at H.M. King High School and the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio was repurposed as a reception center for evacuees with assistance from the American Red Cross.[36][43][33][15][16][17] The Texas National Guard and state agencies sent 17 teams to test evacuees for COVID-19.[33] In Guadalupe, Nuevo León, a Mexican league soccer match was postponed as a precautionary measure.[45]

Impact

Texas

Hurricane Hanna making its second landfall in Texas as viewed from weather radar
Damage from Hurricane Hanna in Corpus Christi, Texas during the storm.

In Texas, where the storm made landfall, around 194,000 residents in the Rio Grande Valley and surrounding areas lost power due to Hanna.[46][47] Hanna also dumped several inches of rain causing widespread flash flooding in the same region, while it also caused downed trees and ripped roofs from homes. Wind gusts reached up to 110 mph (175 km/h) and storm surge reached as high as 7 ft (2 m) at landfall.[36][48] Strong winds damaged entire homes in Port Mansfield as Hanna made landfall nearby.[49][50][51] The Bob Hall Pier in Corpus Christi was extensively damaged and eventually collapsed partially due to high winds and storm surge.[52] Art Museum of South Texas’ first floor and outdoor exhibits at the Texas State Aquarium were inundated by storm surge from Corpus Christi Bay.[53] Areas affected by Hanna were already struggling due to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the region, and thus supplies remained limited.[54] Several marinas and boats on the coastline were severely damaged.[55] Three individuals had to be rescued from a sinking sailboat on a marina off the coast.[56] Many streets and highways later became inaccessible for much of July 25 and 26.[57]

As Hanna moved further inland and weakened on July 26, the storm unleashed copious amounts of rainfall in South Texas, with rainfall totals reaching up to 15 in (280 mm).[28] Additionally, Hanna's outer bands caused widespread tornado warnings across South Texas.[58] An EF0 tornado briefly touched down and damaged two homes and a hangar in Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport.[59] The cities of Mission, McAllen, and Weslaco were also placed under flash flood emergencies due to Hanna's rainbands.[57] Even a day following landfall much of the areas near the coast in Corpus Christi remained submerged from storm surge and flash flooding.[56] After sheltering for the storm, thousands of American Electric Power crews worked for days to restore power, but were delayed to some areas due to high water, especially in the Rio Grande Valley.[60][61] As of 14 September 2020, economic losses were estimated at or above US$775 million.[1]

Mexico

On July 26, streets in Monterrey were flooded by Hanna after it had been downgraded to a tropical storm. Other parts of the states of Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas were similarly affected.[62] Electrical power was cut in large sections of Monterrey and neighboring areas, while the road linking Monterrey to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, was closed due to flooding.[62] In the city of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, heavy rain and winds damaged tents in a refugee camp housing an estimated 1,300 asylum seekers.[63] Reynosa was one of the most affected cities in Mexico, where 45 neighborhoods were damaged, two people were killed, and 200 people were displaced due to Hanna's impact.[64] One of the deaths was caused by drowning in Hanna's floodwaters after the victim suffered a seizure.[65] A maternity hospital was flooded on July 26.[66][65]

An 11-year-old child who fell into an overflowing stream in Monterrey was reported missing,[62] where extensive flooding and fallen trees were reported.[67] A 35-year-old woman and her daughter were killed in Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila.[68] Total economic losses in Mexico were at least US$100 million.[1]

Elsewhere

The precursor disturbance to Hanna dropped heavy rain to parts of Hispaniola, the Florida Keys and Cuba. In Pensacola, Florida, a 33-year-old police deputy was drowned by rip currents while trying to save his 10-year-old son in Sandestin Beach. In portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle, the outer bands of Hanna brought heavy rainfall, even threatening street flooding in New Orleans.[69][70]

Aftermath

Texas

Due to the extensive damage to property in the southern part of the state, Governor Greg Abbott issued a declaration of disaster for 32 counties affected by the storm. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and President Donald Trump granted a Federal Emergency Declaration request for Public Assistance. This allowed the Federal government to provide emergency protective measures, such as Federal assistance and reimbursement for mass care including evacuation and shelter support at 75 percent federal funding.[71] Three days after Hanna made landfall, Governor Greg Abbott visited Corpus Christi and praised the preparations for Hanna stating that no deaths occurred in Texas in association with Hanna.[72]

Mexico

A video showing the collapse of part of the Mexican-United States border wall was widely shared on social media, with the cause attributed to Hanna's high winds;[63] the United States Army Corps of Engineers later clarified that the collapse had occurred over a month earlier, in the state of New Mexico, and was completely unrelated to Hanna.[73] Asylum seekers at a camp in Matamoros were angered due to the lack of warning with Hanna. A worker for the Global Response Management (GRM) and Resource Centre Matamoros (RCM) said that nothing was damaged but a few tents and that they wanted to provide basic human rights for residents at asylum seeker camps.[74]

See also

References

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External links