Beryl rolls past, avoiding Gonzales County


Despite receiving plenty of hype, Hurricane Beryl barely made a dent in Gonzales County as the storm turned eastward in the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall at about 4 a.m. Monday, July 8, in Matagorda.

Initially, U.S. National Weather Service forecasters did not know where the storm would make landfall in the Lone Star State after it battered the Yucatan Peninsula Friday. Projections had Beryl intensifying from a tropical storm back to a possible Category 2 hurricane when it re-entered the Gulf of Mexico and the storm track had it touching Texas shoreline anywhere from the mouth of the Rio Grande near Brownsville to past Victoria near Seadrift.

Instead, fueled by hot Gulf air, the storm shifted eastward towards the middle Texas coast by Saturday, which removed Gonzales County from flood, tropical storm and hurricane watch lists, though neighboring DeWitt, Lavaca and Fayette counties all remained in the flood watch, while DeWitt and Lavaca counties were placed under tropical storm warnings.

At that time, the storm was still projected to dump between 3-6 inches of rain between Sunday night and Tuesday morning on Gonzales County. By Sunday morning, however, the storm track had shifted even more eastward, with the NWS projecting 1.5 to 3 inches of rain for the county. And by Sunday afternoon, the rain projections for the county had been backed down to 0.01 to 1.5 inches at most.

At 11 p.m. Sunday, Beryl had strengthened back into a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 75 mph. The northern eye wall moved on shore east of Port O’Connor by 2:20 a.m. Monday before the storm officially made landfall near Matagorda Bay. DeWitt County was removed from the flood watch and tropical storm warning.

By 8 a.m., only the slimmest of rain bands had advanced into Gonzales county, bringing a slight downpour to the area, as Beryl’s greatest force was aimed at the Houston metropolitan area.

“Initially, we thought it was going to be coming in west towards San Antonio, so we started gearing up and making some preparations (locally),” Gonzales County Emergency Management Director Jimmy Harless said. “And then, as I continued to have weather conferences with the National Weather Service, Beryl would continue to shift just about every time. It got to the point (Sunday) at my 11 a.m. conference that it was going to miss us pretty drastically to the east. Then, we unwound everything and hoped for the best and some rain, and we're not even getting that.”

Harless said the county did take the opportunity to test its new HyperReach warning system with more than 850 people who signed up for alerts receiving one Sunday.

“We would have liked to have about 10,000 people receiving that alert, so we’re going to continue to push and promote it, but the tests looked really good and it was what we’d call a good practice,” Harless said. “What is it they say? Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best? Well, that’s what we pretty much got, except for not getting much of the rain that we really needed.”

Of more than 13.8 million customers on the ERCOT grid, there were still nearly 2.08 million without electrical power as of 2:56 p.m. Tuesday, July 9. None of the 15,221 electrical customers in Gonzales County was reported to have lost service, but 194 Wharton County Electrical Cooperative customers in far eastern Lavaca County were without service.

Also on Tuesday, Spectrum internet service went down statewide at about 12:30 p.m. The company put out a brief statement on the outage on its X (formerly Twitter) platform. Service was restored in Gonzales County by about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, but intermittent outages continued until about 8 p.m. Tuesday.

While there were no fatalities reported in Gonzales County, there were four confirmed fatalities in the Houston area, including a city employee whose car was submerged under an overpass and another individual who reported died in a fire caused by lightning.