Texas issues disaster declaration ahead of Tropical Storm Alberto’s landfall

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The US state of Texas issued a disaster declaration late Wednesday as the first named storm of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season took aim at the Gulf of Mexico, Anadolu reports. 

Tropical Storm Alberto formed off the northern Mexico Gulf Coast just southeast of Brownsville, Texas and is expected to cause a serious amount of damage with winds between 40 to 50 miles (64 to 80 kilometers) per hour expected to batter the coastline.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued the disaster declaration for 51 counties in the southeastern part of the state, from Brownsville all the way to Houston nearly 350 miles (563 kilometers) away.

"Tropical Storm Alberto poses a threat of imminent disaster, including widespread and severe property damage, injury and loss of life due to widespread flooding, life-threatening storm surge, damaging wind and heavy rainfall," said Abbott in his declaration.

While Alberto is expected to make landfall in Mexico near the Rio Grande River sometime Thursday morning, the effects of the storm's outer bands already began taking their toll in Texas on Wednesday night, with storm surges already topping 4 feet (1.2 meters) off the Galveston coast and street flooding starting to close roadways.

"This rainfall will likely produce considerable flash and urban flooding along with new and renewed river flooding," said the National Weather Service in a statement, warning that the severe weather conditions could last for several days and cause a "high probability" of flash flooding.

Weather officials have forecast up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain in the mountainous regions of Mexico, but major Texas cities could see as much as 5 to 10 inches (12.7 to 25.4 centimeters) of rain, according to the Hurricane Prediction Center, which could cause dangerous flooding.

Coastal flooding is also expected along the Louisiana coastline, including New Orleans, and the formation of tornadoes remains a threat for communities along the Gulf Coast.

The Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted a "hyperactive" hurricane season this year with between 17 and 25 named storms. NOAA's forecast calls for as many as 13 hurricanes, with four of them being major hurricanes.

Those numbers are well above the average Atlantic hurricane season which has 14 named storms, seven of them being hurricanes and three being major hurricanes.

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