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Beryl leaves millions of Texans without power as dangerous heat descends on the region

A hotel guest navigates the halls after power was lost due to Hurricane Beryl, Monday, July 8, 2024, in Bay City, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

(CNN) — Restoring power to millions of Texans slammed by the deadly and destructive storm Beryl could take days or even weeks, posing a dangerous scenario for residents without air conditioning as triple-digit heat index temperatures hit the state.

Beryl slammed into southern Texas as a Category 1 hurricane Monday, knocking out power to more than 2.5 million homes and leaving at least eight people dead in Texas and Louisiana.

More than 2.1 million people throughout Texas were still without power Tuesday afternoon, according to

The storm unleashed flooding rains and winds that transformed roads into rushing rivers, ripped through power lines and tossed trees onto homes, roads and cars. It’s hurtling Tuesday toward the Midwest having lost strength and its core, but it still threatens to trigger more flooding and tornadoes along its path.

At a press conference Tuesday, state officials pleaded with residents not to drive on flooded roads.

As difficult recovery and cleanup efforts are underway in southeast Texas, including the Houston area, extreme heat is bearing down on the region Tuesday and will continue Wednesday, creating hazardous conditions for those working outdoors, the elderly, people with chronic medical conditions, children and those without adequate cooling.

The heat index in Houston passed 100 degrees on Tuesday, according to a local weather observation station. The heat index measures how the body feels under both heat and humidity. The station at Hobby International Airport reported a heat index of 103 degrees. Air temperatures across the region are expected to climb into the mid 90s throughout the day and Wednesday.

When a person is unable to cool their body down amid prolonged heat, they are at risk for damage to the brain and other vital organs, as well as other heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and stroke.

“The lack of proper cooling combined with many people outdoors cleaning up after Beryl could produce dangerous heat conditions,” the National Weather Service in Houston said. Heat is the deadliest form of extreme weather in the US, killing more than twice as many people each year as hurricanes and tornadoes combined.

But restoring power to hard-hit communities will be a multi-day undertaking, according to Thomas Gleeson, the chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas. And in the coastal city of Galveston, city officials have estimated it could be as many as two weeks before electricity is restored.

Texas utility CenterPoint Energy has borne the brunt of the outages, with nearly 2 million customers in the dark Monday night, according to Though the company had braced for Beryl’s impact, it said the damage was more severe than it had expected.

“The storm veered off the originally expected course and more heavily impacted the company’s customers, systems and infrastructure than previously anticipated, resulting in outages to more than 2.26 million customers at its peak,” it said.

The utility expects to restore power to 1 million customers by Wednesday night.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire, whose home was also without power Monday, said CenterPoint and the city are “fully aware” of how pressing electricity restoration is.

“We’re going to take care of every community. No community is favored over another community. Every Houstonian is important to us. We’ll get your power on as quickly as possible,” he said.

Beryl’s path through the US

At its peak, Beryl was a record-shattering Category 5 storm but has since been reduced to a far less powerful system with winds of 30 mph. Still, what’s left of Beryl will produce flooding and tornadoes in the US as it moves inland through mid-week.

Beryl became the first storm in the Atlantic hurricane season to make landfall in the US after tearing a devastating path through the Caribbean, where it caused at least nine other deaths. The storm marks the start to a hurricane season experts say will be far from normal, as fossil fuel pollution contributes to abnormally warm water and rapidly intensifying storms.

The center of the storm arrived Tuesday morning in Arkansas and will continue through southern Missouri and Illinois by the end of the day. It is then expected to blow into Indiana on Wednesday morning and race through Ohio and Michigan and into Canada by the end of the week.

The threat of tornadoes linked to Beryl increased Tuesday, prompting the Storm Prediction Center to upgrade the risk of severe thunderstorms to a level 3 of 5 for western Kentucky and southern Indiana.

Parts of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys are under a level 2 of 5 severe thunderstorm threat, primarily for tornadoes associated with the storms, according to the center. Fourteen tornadoes from Beryl were reported Monday in Texas, Louisiana and southern Arkansas.

About 23.4 million people are now under flood watches, with some flash flood warnings issued in the storm’s path Tuesday morning.

Heat sprawls across the West

Heat alerts have been issued Tuesday for about half of the US population, spanning both coasts, but the West coast being hit particularly hard.

An oppressive heat wave is blanketing the West and will hover over the region for several more days, likely bringing high temperatures between 10 to 30 degrees above average to some areas.

Human-caused climate change is driving far more frequent and intense heat waves across the globe, exposing communities to increasingly dangerous temperatures.

“Record high temperatures to continue into mid-week across large portions of the West coast, while record high minimum temperatures stretch from the Gulf coast, northeast along the East coast,” the Weather Prediction Center said.

Excessive heat warnings, watches and advisories are in effect for nearly all of Washington state, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada and southwest Arizona. Parts of western Nevada and northeastern California won’t see high temperatures below 100 degrees until next weekend, the National Weather Service office in Reno said.

Extreme heat has already shattered daily high temperature records across the region and caused deaths.

In Oregon, four people died of suspected heat-related illnesses over the weekend, according to a news release from Multnomah County. A motorcyclist also died from heat exposure in California’s Death Valley on Saturday, when the high temperature was 128 degrees.

CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Robert Shackelford, Jamiel Lynch, Joe Sutton, Taylor Ward and Elise Hammond contributed to this report.