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Texas Ports Shut Operations As Category 1 Hurricane Beryl Approaches Coast

Beryl heads for Texas as category 2 hurricane

The largest Texas ports closed operations and vessel traffic on Sunday as Hurricane Beryl intensified as it approached the Texas coast near Houston.

Beryl, which left a trail of destruction this week in the Caribbean, killing at least 11 people, was now a category 1 hurricane and may strengthen into a category 2 by landfall on Monday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said

The Texas ports of Corpus Christi, Houston, Galveston, Freeport and Texas City said they closed after condition “Zulu” was set by Coast Guard captains on Sunday. All vessel movement and cargo operations are restricted as gale force winds are expected within 12 hours.

Corpus Christi, about 200 miles (322 km) from Houston, is the top crude oil export hub in the United States. Texas City, and Freeport also are major oil and refined products shipping hubs on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Port closures could bring a temporary halt to crude exports, oil shipments to refineries, and motor fuels from those plants.

The 52-mile (83 kms) Houston ship channel, which on Sunday operated under transit restrictions before halting all traffic, allows access to 8 public facilities and some 200 private terminals.

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The NHC in its 11 p.m. CDT (0400 GMT) advisory said reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that Beryl’s maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 mph (120 kmh).

Additional strengthening is expected before landfall on the Texas coast, the NHC said on late Sunday.

Almost 14,000 customers in Texas had lost electricity on Sunday evening, according to PowerOutage.us. Power provider Centerpoint Energy said it was monitoring the storm and making preparations.

Acting Texas Governor Dan Patrick urged people who were on vacation in coastal areas to leave before the storm arrival.

“It’s a serious storm and you must take it seriously and be prepared,” he said in a meeting with officials in Austin.

With Reuters inputs