HOUSTON (AP) — Beta weakened to a tropical depression Tuesday as it parked itself over the Texas coast, raising concerns of extensive flooding in Houston and areas further inland.
Beta made landfall late Monday as a tropical storm just north of Port O’Connor, Texas, and has the distinction of being the first time a storm named for a Greek letter made landfall in the continental United States. Forecasters ran out of traditional storm names last week, forcing the use of the Greek alphabet for only the second time since the 1950s.
By mid-morning Tuesday, Beta was 15 miles east-northeast of Victoria, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. The storm was moving toward the northeast at 2 mph and is expected to stall inland over Texas through Wednesday.
“We currently have both storm surge and rainfall going on right now,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Amaryllis Cotto in Galveston, Texas.
Cotto said 6-12 inches of rain has fallen in the area, with isolated amounts of up to 18 inches. Beta has already caused flooding in Houston and Galveston, and Cotto said that dangerous flash flooding is expected through Wednesday.
Beta was the ninth named storm that made landfall in the continental U.S. this year. That tied a record set in 1916, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.
Beta was expected to eventually move over Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi later in the week, bringing the risk of flash flooding.