Update, 9:27 a.m., Thursday
The last few days brought some tense moments for Galveston County, as Tropical Storm Beta meandered its way toward the Texas coast. The storm — which had the distinction of being the first time a storm named for a Greek letter made landfall in the continental United States — came ashore late Monday as a tropical storm just north of Port O’Connor. It weakened to a tropical depression Tuesday as it parked itself over the Texas coast.
Parts of the county were under voluntary evacuation recommendations, and the Galveston-Bolivar Ferry shut down operations for more than a day.
Before it left the area, Beta caused minor flooding in Galveston and in low-lying parts of Galveston County but, fortunately, failed to drop as much rain as expected and caused far less damage than it was initially thought to do.
This live blog will end here, as residents get to cleaning up and counting their blessings.
Update, 3:27 p.m., Tuesday
Galveston Independent School District has canceled both remote and in-person classes Wednesday.
Athletic practices and competitions can resume Wednesday after 3 p.m., according to the district.
District officials were worried that rains continuing Tuesday night and Wednesday morning would make some roads impassible, spokesman Billy Rudolph said.
The district will release another update 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Update, 2:18 p.m., Tuesday
The Bolivar Ferry will be running for the next few hours with improved conditions, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
The ferry will stop running again until 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., when water conditions are expected to worsen again.
Update, 10:14 a.m., Tuesday
Beta is a tropical storm no more.
The storm has reduced in intensity and is now a tropical depression, the National Hurricane Center said in a 10 a.m. update.
The center has discontinued tropical storm warnings and storm surge warning in Galveston County.
The center of the depression is expected to move northeast beginning this afternoon, and the system could still bring between 5 inches and 10 inches of rain to parts of the middle and upper Texas coast.
Some places could still see isolated storm totals up to 20 inches, according to the hurricane center.
Parts of Galveston County, especially in northern areas, will have a moderate-to-high potential for flash flooding through Wednesday morning, the hurricane center said.
Update, 9:31 a.m., Tuesday
Some Galveston residents will not have their trash picked up today because of high water from Tropical Storm Beta, the City of Galveston said.
The following streets will have trash service today:
- Campeche Cove
- 81st Street
- Stewart Rd
- 65th - 81st - (Stewart to Seawall)
- Some parts of Teichman to 91st Street
- Bayou Shore to Newman
- 51st to 55th
- Upper part of 55th -61st P ½ - Seawall
- Denver Court
- Most areas west of 45th to 53rd
Additionally, the city of Friendswood has canceled trash pick up on Tuesday. People who have their trash picked up on Tuesday will now have their trash picked up on Friday, the city said.
Update, 8:40 a.m., Tuesday
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning until 12:30 p.m. that includes parts of northern Galveston County including League City and Friendswood.
Update, 7:30 a.m., Tuesday
The National Weather Service released 48 hour precipitation totals from Tropical Storm Beta this morning, spanning from 7:00 a.m. Sunday through 7:00 a.m. Tuesday. Northern Galveston County received the most rain, with parts of Friendswood seeing 9.96 inches while Galveston received only 2.37 inches.
|2.5 NW FRIENDSWOOD (HCFCD)||9.96 IN||0618 AM 09/22||29.54N/95.22W|
|2.1 N FRIENDSWOOD (HCFCD)||9.52 IN||0624 AM 09/22||29.54N/95.20W|
|1.2 E FRIENDSWOOD (HCFCD)||8.60 IN||0623 AM 09/22||29.52N/95.18W|
|FRIENDSWOOD||7.89 IN||0659 AM 09/22||29.51N/95.20W|
|LEAGUE CITY 0.9 WNW||7.76 IN||0600 AM 09/22||29.49N/95.12W|
|2 WSW KEMAH||7.49 IN||0650 AM 09/22||29.52N/95.05W|
|2.0 SW FRIENDSWOOD (HCFCD)||7.44 IN||0616 AM 09/22||29.50N/95.22W|
|FRIENDSWOOD||7.36 IN||0700 AM 09/22||29.51N/95.21W|
|LEAGUE CITY||7.13 IN||0700 AM 09/22||29.49N/95.13W|
|LEAGUE CITY||6.91 IN||0630 AM 09/22||29.50N/95.10W|
|LEAGUE CITY 5.3 E||6.49 IN||0633 AM 09/22||29.50N/95.02W|
|LEAGUE CITY||6.23 IN||0652 AM 09/22||29.48N/95.15W|
|1.5 W FRIENDSWOOD||6.12 IN||0500 AM 09/22||29.51N/95.22W|
|DICKINSON 1.7 ENE||5.58 IN||0100 AM 09/22||29.46N/95.04W|
|2 W LEAGUE CITY||5.17 IN||0700 AM 09/22||29.49N/95.15W|
|1 NE LEAGUE CITY||4.52 IN||0700 AM 09/22||29.50N/95.10W|
|SANTA FE||4.34 IN||0700 AM 09/22||29.36N/95.13W|
|1 SW KEMAH||4.30 IN||0700 AM 09/22||29.52N/95.04W|
|1 SSE TEXAS CITY||3.75 IN||0655 AM 09/22||29.39N/94.95W|
|LA MARQUE||2.87 IN||0645 AM 09/22||29.36N/95.00W|
|SAN LEON||2.68 IN||0646 AM 09/22||29.50N/94.95W|
|2 WSW SANTA FE||2.62 IN||0650 AM 09/22||29.36N/95.13W|
|GALVESTON||2.37 IN||0652 AM 09/22||29.27N/94.87W|
|LA MARQUE||2.24 IN||0654 AM 09/22||29.37N/94.96W|
|2.1 NW BAYOU VISTA||1.99 IN||0600 AM 09/22||29.35N/94.96W|
|GALVESTON||1.83 IN||0658 AM 09/22||29.20N/94.93W|
|GALVESTON||1.50 IN||0647 AM 09/22||29.20N/94.94W|
|DICKINSON 1.4 W||0.57 IN||0800 AM 09/21||29.46N/95.09W|
Update, 6:30 a.m., Tuesday
Tropical Storm Beta made landfall near the southern end of the Matagorda Peninsula last night around 10:00 p.m. and the center is now about five miles north of Port O'Connor.
Houston/Galveston area residents are waking up Tuesday to reports of numerous flooded roadways and flood warnings across the region. Officials are discouraging travel through the area unless absolutely necessary.
Over the past 24 hours, rainfall amounts between 5-10 inches have been recorded across Friendswood and Clear Creek is over its banks at numerous observation points.
There is a Flash Flood Warning in effect for Harris county until 8:30 a.m. today and a Flood Warnings in effect for most of the Clear Creek channel through this afternoon and tomorrow. A Tropical Storm Warning and Storm Surge Warning remain in effect for Galveston County.
Additional heavy rainfall is possible throughout the day on Tuesday as Beta slowly moves northwestward and pulls training rain bands off the Gulf.
Update, 8:15 p.m., Monday
A power outage on the west side of League City has left 2,832 customers without power according to Texas-New Mexico Power's outage map. The outage began shortly before 8:00 p.m. and restoration of service is currently estimated at 1:15 a.m.
Update, 7:40 p.m., Monday
Public school districts in Galveston County announced Monday evening that they would remain closed out of an abundance of caution for a second day on Tuesday.
Districts announcing this decision include Clear Creek ISD, Friendswood ISD, Dickinson ISD, Texas City ISD, Santa Fe ISD, Hitchcock ISD and High Island ISD. Galveston ISD had previously announced a Tuesday closure.
Update, 6:42 p.m., Monday
Tropical Storm Beta continues to weaken and is expected to drop 5 to 10 inches in coastal areas, according to the latest update from the National Weather Service.
Winds of 58 mph are possible for up to five days, according to the weather service.
Update, 11:21 a.m., Monday
The forecast for rain amounts in the Galveston County area decreased in slightly but the threat of flash flooding will persist, according to the latest update from the National Weather Service in League City.
In its 10:30 a.m. update, the weather service predicted that Tropical Storm Beta would drop between 6 inches and 10 inches of rain around Matagorda Bay, and between 4 inches and 6 inches on coastal counties farther north.
However, the forecast also warns that rain bands could drop higher amounts in some places. Isolated rain totals could amount to 15 inches by the time Beta passes, according to the weather service.
The forecast gave Galveston County a moderate flash flood risk through Tuesday morning, with risks decreasing by Wednesday.
Update, 10:44 a.m., Monday
In Galveston, areas of downtown, Heards Lane and near Offatts Bayou are flooded with tidal water. Crews have blocked off parts of Harborside Drive near 14th and 19th streets because of flooding, officials report.
The Spot, 3204 Seawall Blvd., has opened up the top two floors of its parking garage for people who need to park their vehicle on higher ground, according to a post. Only the top two floors are available because many locals are opting to stay in the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Galveston Beach, 3228 Seawall Blvd., and those people need a place to park, according to the post.
Update, 10:26 a.m., Monday
Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a disaster declaration in Galveston County and 28 other Texas counties because of Tropical Storm Beta.
"As Tropical Storm Beta approaches the coast, I urge Texans in the path of the storm to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from flooding, storm surge and other impacts from this severe weather," Abbott said in a statement.
Update, 9:28 a.m., Monday
A section of the 61st Street Fishing Pier came lose in the rough surf and tore away Sunday evening, Galveston Island Beach Patrol Chief Peter Davis said.
The chunk of the popular fishing pier washed up on the beach near 67th Street, Davis said.
No one was hurt when the section of the pier came loose, he said.
Update, 9:00 a.m., Monday
Galveston Ferry service remains suspended at this time because of high tides.
Coastal road flooding has been reported across the County in Galveston, Jamaica Beach, Kemah, Clear Lake Shores, League City, Omega Bay and Seabrook.
Update, 8:25 p.m., Sunday
Texas City ISD, Dickinson ISD, Santa Fe ISD, Hitchcock ISD, Friendswood ISD and High Island ISD have also announced that schools in their districts will be closed Monday. With these announcements, all public school districts in Galveston County have now canceled Monday classes.
Galveston ISD is the only district that has canceled Tuesday classes at this time. All other districts will wait until Monday afternoon to make a decision about Tuesday.
Update, 7:05 p.m., Sunday
The Clear Creek Independent School District announced Sunday evening that schools will be closed on Monday and all activities canceled:
"With the safety of our community in mind, the Clear Creek Independent School District will be closed on Monday, September 21, 2020, due to Tropical Storm Beta. With anticipated high winds in the early hours, it will not be safe to transport students to school and we are expecting flooding along many roadways. This closure affects all students, including Clear Connections, and all extracurricular activities."
Update, 3:24 p.m., Sunday
The Galveston Independent School District has canceled school Monday and Tuesday because of expected flooding from Tropical Storm Beta. There will be no on-site or remote instruction or extracurricular events and athletics, according to the school district.
Galveston County also is warning people who are parked in the county's parking garage at 20th Rear and Ball streets that they may be towed if their vehicles are still parked there Monday morning, spokesman Zach Davidson said.
The county is open for business Monday and needs the garage for employees to park in, Davidson said.
Update, 2:38 p.m., Sunday
People who can stay where they are should do so Sunday afternoon as rising tides and rains could make some areas of the county impassible over the next two days with the approach of Tropical Storm Beta, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said Sunday afternoon.
The National Weather Service is expecting the storm to bring 15 inches of rain to the area from Sunday through Tuesday, Henry said. The weather service expects the storm to move out of the area by Wednesday, he said.
It’s still not out of the question that the storm could become a Category 1 hurricane, he said.
“It is intensifying once again,” Henry said.
Several Galveston County governments have issued voluntary evacuation orders for low-lying areas, including Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston’s West End, Kemah, Jamaica Beach, Tiki Island, Bayou Vista, some areas of Dickinson and areas outside the levees in La Marque, Henry said.
Hitchcock was anticipating issuing a voluntary evacuation later today, Henry said.
Texas City officials closed the Texas City Dike because of the high and choppy tides, according to the city.
Water is already covering Highway 87 on Bolivar Peninsula, Henry said. The highway had been impassible at some points Sunday and the county expected as much as 4 feet to be over the road, he said.
“We are not to the worst of it yet,” Henry said. "Our anticipated worst water over the road will be tomorrow morning at high tide, approximately 5:59 a.m.”
Texas Department of Transportation crews are staying on Bolivar Peninsula throughout the storm to clear roads as soon as the storm has passed, he said.
The county also has high-water rescue equipment across the area, Henry said.
The ground in the county is very dry, which should help absorb the rain water, Henry said.
“I was planning on issuing a burn ban tomorrow,” Henry said. "I feel pretty comfortable that won’t be necessary now. The water will be absorbed at a fairly good rate because of how dry everything is.”
Several local school districts will make calls later Sunday evening about whether to hold Monday classes , Henry said.
By Sunday afternoon, water was filling the roads in low-lying areas such as Highway 87 on Bolivar Peninsula, Jamaica Beach and the 59th Street area of Galveston.
Despite persistent, light rain, several people strolled along the seawall or played in the waves at the beach in Galveston. People took pictures or videos of tall waves and tides creeping up the beach.
Island-born Ryan Winsman had come to the beach from his home in League City to surf the waves, and they have given him a hard workout, he said.
“I was trying to catch my breath,” Winsman said. “I’m winded.”
The wind made the surfing chilly and he shivered in a parka as he looked over the waves crashed against the 61st Street Fishing Pier.
Winsman wasn’t too worried about Tropical Storm Beta, but it’s good that people are taking it seriously, he said.
“You never know with Mother Nature,” Winsman said. “You can never underestimate it.”
Winsman was contemplating going back for more wave action, but he was trying to play it safe too. The conditions were rough, he said.
Houston resident Elbira Rosas had come to Galveston on Sunday to watch the waves with her brother, who was visiting from Austin.
They took pictures of the surf and held a taut umbrella against the whipping wind.
“I’m not nervous,” Rosas said. “We came to see the water for 30 minutes.”
It is a little concerning that there have been so many storms this year, she said.
Elizabeth Vasconi was taking advantage of the relatively empty beach Sunday morning to take her young dogs to the shore for the first time, she said.
She’d decided it was a good idea to get the kids out of the house before the heavy rains start, she said.
You never can tell with storms, she said.
“We’ll see,” Vasconi said. “Everything’s changing.”
Her home flooded during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and all storms can be troubling, she said.
“I guess that just goes with the territory of living here,” Vasconi said.
People who are staying in their homes during the storm should avoid trying to drive through high water, Henry said.
“Just stay in your house,” Henry said. "It is very deceiving when you see water, to know how deep it is, so don’t try it. Just stay where you are.”
Henry expects the heavy rains to come Monday afternoon, he said.
Update, 9:38 a.m., Sunday
The Bolivar Ferry has suspended operations because of the high tides, according to a Tweet from the service.
The ferry will resume service when conditions allow.
Update, 7:45 a.m., Sunday
The cities of Dickinson and Kemah have issued a disaster declaration ahead of Tropical Storm Beta and called for a voluntary evacuation.
In Kemah, residents living in low-lying areas east of state Highway 146, specifically, have been advised to evacuate.
The Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry continued to run overnight and will make a few more passages Sunday morning but will stop service shortly, according to a Tweet.
The National Weather Service is expecting minor to moderate coastal flooding Sunday and Monday with maximum tides of 5 feet to 6 feet above mean low tide. The slow-moving storm is expected to crawl up the Texas coast, bringing between 5 inches and 10 inches of rain.
The weather service has canceled all hurricane watches. The expectation is that Beta will remain a tropical storm, according to the weather service. Tropical storm and storm surge warnings remain in effect.
Update, 5:10 p.m., Saturday
The National Weather Service has issued a storm surge warning for areas from Port Aransas to High Island, including Galveston Bay.
The area from Port Aransas to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, is also under a hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning, meaning hurricane conditions are possible and tropical storm conditions are expected, according to the weather service.
People should be cautious when going to the beach over the next few days, Galveston Island Beach Patrol Chief Peter Davis said.
If people visit the beach Sunday, they shouldn’t get in the water, Davis said.
“These are serious conditions, very serious conditions,” Davis said. “If they come down to the beach, just stay up on the seawall. Inexperienced surfers should not be anywhere near these conditions.”
Beach patrol was flying a red flag Saturday, indicating hazardous conditions.
Normally, rip currents concentrate around the jetties, but lifeguards are seeing rip currents across the beach, Davis said.
Beach patrol restricted people Saturday afternoon to walking only in waist-high water and asked people to stay off the jetties, Davis said.
Lifeguards had made several rescues and moved about 800 people out of hazardous conditions as of 5 p.m. Saturday, Davis said.
“We’re going to have conditions like this for four days,” Davis said.
Beach patrol also had to help move several vehicles off the Stewart Beach parking lot Saturday afternoon as it flooded, he said.
The seawall parking spaces were packed Saturday afternoon.
As the tides rose and the waves built Saturday, people played in the surf and sat in lawn chairs on the narrow strips of beach on Galveston.
M.J. Jaudon, who had been visiting Galveston from New York for a month or so, watched his children play in the choppy surf.
He wasn’t too worried about the approaching storm, he said.
“I’ve been through blackouts, snow covering,” Jaudon said. “I’m not really worried about it.”
Cory Cardenas was down in Galveston from League City with some friends taking advantage of the cool weather before the storm arrived, he said.
He’s tracking the storm, but he’s hoping it’s not too bad for the area, he said.
He almost left town in advance of Hurricane Laura, which made landfall in Louisiana Aug. 27, he said.
“We were ready to leave on the last one, but it turned,” Cardenas said.
Cardenas isn’t as worried about this storm as he was with Hurricane Laura, he said.
The Texas Department of Transportation has also warned people that starting Saturday afternoon, crews may need to periodically pause the Bolivar Ferry because of the approach of Tropical Storm Beta.
High winds and high tides can make unsafe conditions for the ferry, according to the department of transportation.
People should plan for possible disruptions in the ferry service, according to the department of transportation.
Galveston Independent School District has also announced all classes are cancelled Monday at the Crenshaw Environmental Science Magnet campus on Bolivar Peninsula.
Update, 3:55 p.m., Saturday
La Marque Mayor Bobby Hocking has issued a voluntary evacuation order for people outside of the city’s protective levees.
This includes areas by Mahan Park, 2702 Woodlawn St., Maxwell Street and along Highland Bayou, Hocking said.
“That’s really it,” Hocking said. “Most of La Marque is within the levee protection.”
La Marque has prepared for the storm by vacuuming any debris out of its storm drains and is monitoring the storm, Hocking said.
“I think La Marque’s in pretty good shape all around,” Hocking said.
The Port of Galveston also plans to suspend operations by noon Sunday in advance of Tropical Storm Beta, Director of Port Operations Brett Milutin said.
This is standard operations in advance of a storm, Milutin said.
Port offices will be closed Monday and Tuesday, he said.
Local leaders have issued voluntary evacuation orders for Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island's West End and other low-lying areas ahead of expected flooding and storm surge caused by Tropical Storm Beta.
If people living on Bolivar Peninsula are uncomfortable with staying in their homes for several days, they should think about getting to higher ground, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said Saturday morning.
While Tropical Storm Beta isn't expected to bring heavy rains, it is expected to flood state Highway 87 and lead to conditions that could stop ferry services to Galveston, Henry said.
The Texas Department of Transportation runs the ferry.
"If you can manage three days in your house without leaving, then you're probably fine and don't need to leave," Henry said. "If you can't, you probably ought to think about someplace else to go."
People who stay should ensure they have everything they need through Wednesday, Henry said.
Residents of San Leon and Bacliff should also be paying attention to the storm because those areas are prone to flooding from rain and storm surge, Henry said.
Galveston Mayor pro tem Craig Brown also called a voluntary evacuation Saturday morning for residents of Galveston's West End and other low-lying areas.
Flooding could make some streets impassible and elevated tides could inhibit drainage, the city warned.
The city also asked people who don't live or work in Galveston to return home.
A voluntary order advises people who are in low-lying areas or areas prone to flooding to seek higher ground. Galveston's West End, which is not protected by the seawall, and Bolivar Peninsula are examples of such areas.
As opposed to voluntary orders, mandatory evacuation orders, such as those announced on the island because of Hurricane Laura last month, trigger state assistance for evacuating and indicate first responders likely won't be able to reach residents for some time.
League City isn't issuing any evacuation orders but is preparing for the storm and asking residents to stay alert as Tropical Storm Beta draws near, Mayor Pat Hallisey said.
League City plans Monday to put pumps in the area near Bayridge Park, 2913 Mariner Drive, which is prone to flooding, Hallisey said.
"Nobody believes this is going to be a huge wind event, but it is going to be a rain event," Hallisey said. "We're trying to anticipate, even though we don't know what it's going to do, the worst-case scenario."
People who live in low-lying areas, such as Clear Creek or the Dickinson Bayou areas, should pay attention to the storm and seek another place to stay if they're uncomfortable in their homes, he said.
"If you're uncomfortable where you are, it doesn't take much to move to higher ground," Hallisey said.
Hallisey will know more Monday about whether he'll call for voluntary evacuation of low-lying areas, he said.
The storm is expected to approach the Texas coast around Port O'Connor on Sunday and move slowly up the coast toward Louisiana, according to the National Weather Service.
The service expects the storm to bring 10 inches of rain to the areas, a decrease from the 15 inches expected yesterday.
The weather service has issued a hurricane watch from Port Aransas to High Island and a storm surge watch from Port Mansfield, Texas, to Cameron, Louisiana. The weather service expects to upgrade these watches to warnings Saturday, according to an early morning briefing.
Both Galveston County and the city of Galveston also have issued disaster declarations because of the storm.
For the city, the purpose is to be able to tap into state and federal money if the city expends resources to respond to the storm, Brown said. The declaration could also help the city receive money to assist with rebuilding dunes, he said.
The city is worried about beach erosion and damage to dunes already eroded during Hurricane Laura, which made landfall in Louisiana Aug. 27, but raised tides and caused strong waves in Galveston, Brown said.
“We’ll probably have beach erosion from this,” Brown said. “We’ll also have dune destruction.”
In Galveston, the storm likely will bring street flooding in areas such as downtown, around Offatts Bayou and parts of the West End, but so far city officials don’t think the flooding will reach most businesses or homes, Brown said.
Brown wasn't planning to call a mandatory evacuation when he spoke about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, he said.
The storm is not as powerful as Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which flooded properties and caused damage across Galveston County, Henry said. And the National Weather Service expects the storm to speed up when it makes landfall, unlike Hurricane Harvey, which sat over the area and dumped rain, Henry said.
"That's a problem for us because we're trying to make good choices, good decisions with a very low confidence forecast," Henry said.
The county plans to make another announcement about the storm Sunday morning, he said.