Stormy Outlook: Hanna expected to make landfall Saturday

Tropical Storm Hanna is expected to make landfall Saturday afternoon as a Category One hurricane in the vicinity of Baffin Bay bringing heavy rains and flooding to the Rio Grande Valley over the next couple of days.

Cities and counties in the Rio Grande Valley are busy handing out sandbags to residents in need. Shrimpers were bringing in their shrimp boats from the Gulf of Mexico for safety.

The National Weather Service said a flash flood watch remains in effect from 7 a.m. Saturday to 7 p.m. Sunday for all of Deep South Texas including the Valley.

Friday evening, Hanna continued to churn through the Gulf. The storm was heading west at 10 mph with maximum sustained winds at 50 mph.

On Friday, Ronald “Ron” Mills, executive port director at Port Mansfield, advised mariners and motorists to not travel to Port Mansfield because of Hanna.

“Sea conditions are becoming unfavorable and later in the day the situation will definitely worsen. Of further concern there is a very strong possibility that visitors may become trapped in Port Mansfield.”

Shrimp boats are seen near the jetties on South Padre Island as they journey to the Port of Brownsville Shrimp Basin to dock their boats due to Tropical Storm Hanna in the Gulf of Mexico Friday Morning. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Tropical storm conditions are possible Saturday and Saturday night. There’s an 80% chance of thunderstorms on Sunday and a 60 % chance of thunderstorms Sunday night.

Forecasters stated while some areas in the Valley could receive 6 to 8 inches of rain, there’s a possibility that other areas could receive up to 12 inches of rain. Some water rescues may be needed Saturday night in some areas where flood water depths could be 2 to 3 feet or higher.

Although there could be winds, storm surge, tornadoes, the most threatening could be rainfall/flash flooding and river flooding. Coastal flooding is also a possibility with the potential for up to 2 feet of storm surge inundation. Coastal flood advisories are expected to be issued.

Weather forecasters advise boaters to postpone and cancel boating trips this weekend.

There is an increasing potential for 30 to 40 mph winds with gust to 50 plus mph, across the Valley including Cameron and Southern Hidalgo County.

Scattered power outages may occur especially in higher gusts with heavier rain bands. Some damage to roofing and siding materials is possible, forecasters said. Residents should move lightweight objects indoors and tied down others as soon as possible.

Officials from the Cameron County Emergency Management Operations said the county started sandbag distributions Friday in all four of its precincts and County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. issued a declaration of disaster to be prepared. The county also prepositioned pumps in areas that are prone to flooding and activated all of their high-profile vehicles to be on standby.

Cameron County employees Jose Luis Muniz and Eugenio Ruiz grab sandbags for a resident ahead of Tropical Storm Hanna Friday during distribution at the Cameron County Commissioner Precinct 1 Warehouse on South Brown Avenue. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

“We do want everybody to make sure that if you have any medical devices that run off of electricity and batteries, make sure your batteries are fully charged. When we have storms like this, there is a tendency for lights to go out and we want to make sure that everybody is safe,” Tom Hushen, County Emergency Management Coordinator, said.

Cameron County will hand out free sandbags for the community from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. today at the following locations:

>> Commissioner Precinct 1 Warehouse: 2050 S. Browne Ave., in Brownsville.

>> Commissioner Precinct 2 Warehouse: 7092 Old Alice Road, in Brownsville.

>> Commissioner Precinct 3 Warehouse: 26945 FM 510, in San Benito.

>> Commissioner Precinct 4 Warehouse: 2663 White Ranch Road, La Feria.

The City of Brownsville will also provide free pre-filled sandbags, while supplies last, to Brownsville residents from 8:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday at the Brownsville Events Center.

For the city event, residents must present an official Driver License/ID and a Brownsville Public Utilities Board Account of Charges prior to obtaining sandbags. Residents are limited to 8 bags and businesses may receive up to 10 bags.

The Brownsville Public Utilities Board said crews are also in full preparation should the storm cause any service-related problems. Operations crews are being put in standby mode and will be ready to act if there are any reports of problems and resaca levels are already being lowered, and equipment is being double-checked and prepped.

“If customers experience any outages or other service problems, we encourage them to use the app found on the BPUB website to report it. We also want to remind our customers to never touch or approach a downed power line,” Cleiri Quezada, senior communications and public relations coordinator, said.

“You can’t tell just by looking whether it’s still energized. If a customer encounters a downed line, they should keep their distance and call 911.”

For more information about the tropical storm, visit weather.gov/rgv.

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com