Hurricane Beryl struck southeast Texas on Monday morning, resulting in the deaths of at least two people and causing widespread power outages affecting over two million residents.

Initially making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, Beryl has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.

The storm brought destructive winds, heavy rainfall, and life-threatening storm surges. Officials have warned of up to 15 inches (38 cm) of rain and powerful wind gusts.

Nearly 1,000 flights at Houston’s largest airport, Bush Intercontinental Airport, were canceled due to the severe weather conditions.

Governor’s office officials have repeatedly urged residents not to underestimate the storm’s danger, highlighting its deadly impact in the Caribbean, where it caused at least 10 fatalities days earlier.

In Harris County, which includes parts of Houston, a 53-year-old man died when strong winds downed power lines and knocked a tree onto his home, causing the roof to collapse.

A 74-year-old woman in the same county also died after a tree crashed through her roof, with police notified by her granddaughter.

Police in a Houston suburb began conducting water rescues as the hurricane continued to batter the state. According to AccuWeather, landfalling hurricanes of this kind are rare for Texas in July.

Sustained wind speeds reached 75 mph (120 km/h) with gusts up to 87 mph (140 km/h).

Torrential rainfall and flash flooding were reported, with inches of rain falling in just a few hours.

The storm is expected to weaken as it moves north-northeast, but flash flooding and heavy rain remain significant risks.

As of Monday morning, poweroutage.us reported that over two million customers in Texas were without power.

Additionally, 981 flights at Bush Intercontinental Airport were canceled, according to flightaware.com.

The city of Galveston, southeast of Houston, has issued a voluntary evacuation order for some areas in anticipation of Hurricane Beryl.

Storm surges in the Galveston area are expected to reach 4-6 feet above ground level.

In Surfside Beach, police posted a photo showing floodwaters rising above a truck’s lower door, indicating significant flooding.

Michael Brennan, Director of the US National Hurricane Center, has urged residents in Beryl’s path to find safe shelter, warning that hazardous conditions will persist even after the storm’s center moves through.

“There is a very considerable risk of flash flooding across the Texas Gulf Coast, eastern Texas, and the ArkaTex region,” he said.

Acting Governor Dan Patrick echoed this warning, urging residents not to underestimate the severity of the storm.

The ports of Corpus Christi, Houston, Galveston, Freeport, and Texas City have all been closed, temporarily halting exports and restricting vessel movement and cargo operations.

Refugio County, north of Galveston, issued a mandatory evacuation on Saturday, citing limited emergency services, holiday traffic, and weakened infrastructure from Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Nueces County also ordered the evacuation of visitors and strongly encouraged locals to leave.

Over 2,000 emergency responders, including members of the Texas National Guard, have been mobilized to address Beryl’s aftermath, according to Acting Governor Patrick.

The hurricane is expected to move east across America’s central states, including Mississippi, later in the week, potentially bypassing central and west Texas, which are currently experiencing moderate to severe drought.

Hurricane Beryl has been an unprecedented storm, becoming the earliest Category Five hurricane ever recorded.

It has already caused widespread devastation across the Caribbean, severely impacting islands such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mayreau, Union, and Grenada.

The storm also struck Jamaica with significant force, leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

In southern Mexico’s tourist hotspots of Cancún and Tulum, Beryl caused power outages and felled trees, though no major damage was reported.

While attributing specific storms to climate change is complex, exceptionally high sea surface temperatures are believed to have contributed to Hurricane Beryl’s power.

This is the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic season, and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned that the North Atlantic could experience up to seven major hurricanes this year, up from an average of three per season.