Beta spurs hurricane watch for Texas, expected to strengthen

MIAMI (AP) — A hurricane watch was issued late Friday for coastal Texas as Tropical Storm Beta gains strength in the Gulf of Mexico during an exceptionally busy Atlantic hurricane season.

Beta was 305 miles (495 kilometers) east of the mouth of the Rio Grande with maximum sustained winds at 60 mph (95 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. Forecasters said the storm was expected to become a hurricane on Sunday.

The hurricane watch was issued from Port Aransas, Texas, to High Island, Texas. Also in effect were a storm surge watch from Port Mansfield, Texas to High Island; and a tropical storm watch from south of Port Aransas to the mouth of the Rio Grande, and east of High Island to Morgan City, Louisiana.

Forecasters were predicting up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) of storm surge along parts of the Texas coast. Wind, heavy rainfall and life-threatening surf and rip current conditions were also expected with the storm.

Forecasters ran out of traditional storm names earlier Friday, forcing the use of the Greek alphabet for only the second time since the 1950s.

Alpha was a post-tropical cyclone Friday night after bringing rain to Portugal. Tropical Storm Wilfred remained at sea but was 830 miles (1,340 kilometers) west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands with maximum sustained winds at 40 mph (65 kph).

Meanwhile, Hurricane Teddy remained a powerful hurricane late Friday, with maximum sustained winds at 130 mph (215 kph). Teddy was centered 730 miles (1,170 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda less than a week after Hurricane Paulette made landfall in the wealthy British territory. Large swells from Teddy were forecast to impact the Lesser Antilles, the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas, and by Saturday were to spread to Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast.

Parts of the Alabama coast and Florida Panhandle were still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Sally, which roared ashore on Wednesday. At least two deaths were blamed on the system, and hundreds of thousands of people were still without power late Friday.

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