Huge swells, tides force shutdown of gulf beaches

HARLINGEN —County officials on Sunday barred beach access at several popular locations to vehicular and pedestrian traffic due to dangerous water conditions and elevated risks of rip currents.

The combination of dangerous gulf swells in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Cristobal, combined with elevated astronomical tides, also raised the potential for coastal flooding.

“Effective immediately, County Beach Access Areas 5and 6 and Boca Chica Beach will be temporarily closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic due to high tides and undriveable conditions until further notice,” a county statement read.

“We ask that that all individuals take extra caution if they choose to enter the water and dial 911 for any emergencies,” the statement added.

The National Weather Service in Brownsville issued a warning for beach-goers, saying “tides with the recent full moon phase will result in dangerous surf and rip currents and the potential for minor coastal flooding. Swimming along with driving on narrow beaches is not recommended.”

The center of Cristobal passed over the Louisiana coast Sunday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of around 50 mph with some higher gusts.

Tropical storm force winds extended from the center of the storm for 205 miles, and storm surge warnings were issued for the Louisiana and Mississippi gulf coasts.

The storm is expected to weaken to a tropical depression as it continues a northward path for the next several days, bringing heavy rain to the Mississippi Valley all the way to the Great Lakes.