Hanna becomes 1st Atlantic hurricane of the season, as it treks toward Texas

Hurricane Hanna seen from above on Saturday, July 25, 2020.
Hurricane Hanna seen from above on Saturday, July 25, 2020. (Image credit: NOAA)

Tropical Storm Hanna, now packing maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km/h), has become the first Atlantic hurricane of the season, as it treks west toward the coast of Texas, a state that is particularly hard hit by the novel coronavirus. 

As of 7 a.m. ET today (July 25), Hurricane Hanna was centered about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east-southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, and 90 miles (150 km) east-northeast of Port Mansfield, Texas, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is reporting. The hurricane was moving west at 9 mph (14.5 km/h). Hanna is forecast to gradually turn toward the west-southwest by tonight and to make landfall along the Texas coast this afternoon or early evening. 

A hurricane warning is in effect for the next 12 hours from Port Mansfield north to Mesquite Bay, meaning hurricane conditions are expected somewhere in the area and individuals in these areas should make preparations to protect themselves and their property, the NHC said. 

Related: How strong can a hurricane get?

A combination of tide and dangerous storm surge — when seawater gets pushed ahead of the storm, mostly from high winds — will flood normally dry areas near the coast. If the peak surge occurs at high tide, areas along the coast from Port Mansfield to Baffin Bay could see water levels reaching 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 meters), while a surge of 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 m) could occur from Baffin Bay to Sargent, Texas, including Corpus Christi Bay, Copano Bay, Aransas Bay, San Antonio Bay and Matagorda Bay, the NHC said.

Hanna is also expected to drop 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain, with some isolated spots getting drenched with 18 inches (45 cm), through Sunday night (July 26) in south Texas and into the Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and northern Tamaulipas, the NHC said. The downpours could trigger life-threatening flash flooding in south Texas. 

"A few tornadoes are possible today and overnight over parts of the lower to middle Texas coastal plain," the NHC said.

Hanna is considered a Category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, which is based on maximum sustained winds, where a Category 1 has winds that range from 74 to 95 mph (119 to 153 km/h) and the highest Category 5 storm has winds of 156 mph (251 km/h) or stronger. 

Originally published on Live Science.

Jeanna Bryner
Live Science Editor-in-Chief

Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.