Humberto Weakens After Blasting Texas - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Humberto Weakens After Blasting Texas

(AP Photo/Melissa Phillip) (AP Photo/Melissa Phillip)
(AP Photo/The Beaumont Enterprise) (AP Photo/The Beaumont Enterprise)
(AP Photo/Dave Einsel) (AP Photo/Dave Einsel)

(CBS/AP) Hurricane Humberto, an extremely rare rapidly formed storm, sneaked up on southeast Texas overnight, crashing ashore Thursday with heavy rains and 80-mph winds, killing at least one person.

According to Bridge City Police, an east Texas man in his mid-70s was killed when his carport fell on top of him, reports CBS Affiliate KFDM.

Officers say the man had gone outside to look for possible damage to his home, when the carport collapsed.

Authorities are not yet releasing the identity of the man.

It was the first hurricane - albeit a relatively tame Category 1
to hit the United States since Hurricane Wilma slammed into Florida in October 2005.

Humberto did not exist until late Wednesday afternoon, and was not even a tropical storm until almost midday, strengthening from a tropical depression with 35-mph winds to a hurricane with 85-mph winds in just 18 hours, senior hurricane specialist James Franklin said at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

"To put this development in perspective - no tropical cyclone in the historical record has ever reached this intensity at a faster rate near landfall. It would be nice to know, someday, why this happened," Franklin said.

Humberto made landfall near the same spot Hurricane Rita did in 2005, and areas of southwest Louisiana not fully recovered from Rita were bracing for more misery.

The storm struck about 5 miles east of High Island, near the eastern tip of the Texas coast, then weakened and bore into central Louisiana, forecasters said.

Power was knocked out for most of Beaumont and Port Arthur and about 100,000 customers were without power in the wake of the storm, Entergy Texas spokeswoman Debi Derrick said.

"We do hope to have customers' service restored, but it may be a couple of days for some," she said.

One location blacked out was Jefferson County's Emergency Operations Center in Beaumont, where wind speeds of 75 to 80 mph were noted, said Michael White, Jefferson County's assistant emergency management coordinator. Officials were forced to track the storm with laptops, he said.

Valero Energy Corp.said a power outage shut down its 325,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Port Arthur, and Shell Oil Co. said the 265,500 barrel per day Motiva Port Arthur Refinery was similarly affected.

A hurricane warning is in effect from east of High Island to Cameron, Louisiana, while a tropical storm warning covers a section of Louisiana coast east of there. The storm had been expected to stay a tropical storm but energized into a Category 1 hurricane after midnight.

At 11 a.m. EDT, the Humberto's center was about 75 miles west-northwest of Lafayette. It was moving toward the north-northeast near 12 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 65 mph.

Rainfall of up to eight inches was expected across much of Louisiana and Mississippi.

Texas has had one of the wettest summers on record, with Houston soaked under the most rain it has had in a summer since 1942.

Gov. Rick Perry activated 50 military vehicles with 200 soldiers, plus a half-dozen helicopters and two swift-water rescue teams. Other crews from the U.S. Coast Guard were on standby.

Last month, at least six deaths were blamed on Tropical Storm Erin, which dropped nearly a foot of rain in parts of Texas. In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison soaked Houston with 20 inches (about 51 centimeters) of rain in eight hours. About two dozen people died and damage was estimated at roughly $5 billion.

In Louisiana, Gov. Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency. Calcasieu and Vermilion parishes had shelters on standby. Vermilion also was making sandbags and sand available, said Mark Smith, a spokesman for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

The warning area included Louisiana's Cameron Parish, which was devastated by Hurricane Rita - with winds far stronger than Humberto - in September 2005. More than 500 federally issued travel trailers and mobile homes remain there.

Humberto is the eighth named storm this year and formed from a depression that developed Wednesday morning.

Another tropical depression formed Wednesday far in the open Atlantic, about 930 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. It had maximum sustained winds near 35 mph and was moving west-northwest at about 16 mph.

The National Hurricane Center said the depression was disorganized but still could grow into a tropical storm in the next day.

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