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Hurricane Hanna lands in Texas coronavirus hotspot

The Texas coastline, already wracked by COVID-19, now has to deal with the first hurricane of the Atlantic season.

Hurricane Hanna formed Saturday morning and hours later slammed into the southern Texas coast at Padre Island as a Category 1 storm.

For the first time during this hyper-active 2020 Atlantic storm season, the worst fears of disaster planners is at hand: A hurricane has made landfall during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hanna, the first Atlantic hurricane to form this year, had sustained winds of up to 90 mph, bringing storm surge, flooding and isolated tornadoes to a Texas coastline also struggling with the coronavirus.

A hurricane warning was issued Friday for a nearly 100-mile stretch of coastline — with Nueces County, Texas in the center. The county of 362,294 residents includes Corpus Christi and has added more than 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the first two weeks of July alone, according to the Texas Tribune. One in every 50 people in the county were infected.

Corpus Christi also made national headlines recently after health officials said several dozen infants tested positive for the coronavirus from July 1 to July 16.

While it’s expected to bring rain and flooding to Texas, the National Hurricane Center said Saturday that Hanna isn’t expected to strengthen beyond a Category 1 storm. That means officials likely won’t have to impose mandatory evacuations — where thousands would have to flood into potentially cramped storm shelters amid the pandemic.

Even if not catastrophic, Hanna made its presence felt on Saturday after making landfall at 6 p.m.

“These rains will result in life-threatening flash flooding,” the hurricane center wrote in its 5 p.m. advisory. The center also reported a wind gust of 104 mph in Laguna Madre, Texas. Nueces County officials reported that roads were undrivable and that the end of a popular pier, the Bob Hall pier, had collapsed even before the eye of Hanna reached the Texas coast.

Elsewhere in the tropics, Tropical Storm Gonzalo, which was initially projected to be the first hurricane of the storm season, just about dissipated on Saturday, according to the hurricane center. A new, unnamed Atlantic system has a 20 percent chance of forming over the next five days off the coast of Africa.

Saharan dust off the coast of Africa will likely limit tropical activity for the next week, as the plume of dust moves west toward to the U.S. and Caribbean, suppressing all tropical activity in the process.

Related: What kept Tropical Storm Gonzalo from becoming a hurricane? Saharan dust is the No. 1 suspect

No tropical systems pose an immediate threat to Florida, though the state’s typical July thunderstorms will be back on Sunday and could get nasty, said Spectrum Bay News 9 Meteorologist Diane Kacmarik. There will be a 70 percent chance of rain, with heavy thunderstorms expected in the afternoon.

“By mid-day showers and thunderstorms will start filling in,” Kacmarik said. “The coverage is going to be higher than we’re seeing (Saturday), with deeper moisture in place.”

• • •

2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane

PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm

BUILD YOUR KIT: The stuff you’ll need to stay safe — and comfortable — for the storm

PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job

NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

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