Hanna downgraded to tropical storm as Douglas threatens Hawaii


The first Atlantic hurricane of 2020 was downgraded to a tropical storm Sunday after lashing coronavirus-hit Texas, as Hawaii braced for its own battering.

Hanna was still packing winds of around 45 miles (72 kilometers) an hour as it crossed from the Lone Star state over northeastern Mexico, meteorologists said.
“Additional weakening is expected as the center of Hanna moves farther inland, and the cyclone is expected to weaken to a tropical depression later today and dissipate Monday or Monday night,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or widespread damage but meteorologists warned that heavy rain would produce “life-threatening flash flooding” in South Texas and mudslides across northern Mexican states.

President Donald Trump tweeted as Hanna made landfall Saturday that his administration would “coordinate closely” with state authorities and urged locals to “protect your family & property!”

Damage appeared limited in the immediate aftermath of Hanna’s arrival on Padre Island around 5:00 pm (2200 GMT), with some isolated flooding and power outages.

Images captured by CBS showed roads and a caravan park in the Texan coastal city of Corpus Christi strewn with debris and downed trees.

Some motorists even braved flooded roads, while one hardy storm-watcher was seen calmly taking pictures of the beach from a wind-swept promenade.
Local authorities were readying for the possibility of tornadoes into the evening in southern Texas, as the American Red Cross opened three shelters across the state in preparation.

Images shared by the National Weather Service office in Corpus Christi showed water lapping at the city’s bayfront Art Museum of South Texas.

The Texas State Aquarium said it would be closed following some storm damage.

Hanna hit as Texas faces a huge surge in COVID-19 infections, with officials instituting a state-wide mask mandate to curb the spread of the disease.

The US is the hardest-hit country in the coronavirus pandemic, with some 4.2 million cases, and authorities will have to figure out how to safely shelter residents forced out of their homes by future hurricanes this season.

A second storm system — Pacific Hurricane Douglas — was bearing down on the Hawaiian islands Sunday morning and was expected to move over parts of the state later in the day and on Monday.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Maui and Kauai counties, as well as Oahu — the island on which Honolulu — a city of just under 350,000 — is located.

The hurricane was about 235 miles east of the capital Honolulu at 5:00 am (1500 GMT), packing winds of up to 90 miles per hour.

“Gradual weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, but Douglas is expected to remain a hurricane as it moves through the islands,” the National Hurricane Center said.

The NHC said the storm was expected to bring heavy surf and rainfall of up to 15 inches on higher terrain.