Port of Corpus Christi closes as Tropical Storm Beryl approaches

By Arathy Somasekhar

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Ports along the Texas coast started to close or restrict vessel traffic on Sunday to prepare for Tropical Storm Beryl, which was expected to strengthen back to a Category 1 hurricane before hitting the area late in the evening.

The storm, which at one point intensified to a Category 5 hurricane, left a deadly trail of destruction across the Caribbean. It swept through Jamaica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in addition to unleashing heavy rainfall on northern Venezuela.

The port of Corpus Christi said it was closed after condition “Zulu” was set by the Coast Guard captain on Sunday. No vessels may enter, transit, or remain without the permission of the captain as gale force winds were expected within 12 hours.

Corpus Christi, about 200 miles (322 km) from Houston, is the top crude oil export hub in the United States. Port closures could bring a temporary halt to crude oil exports, shipments of crude oil to refineries, and motor fuels from those plants.

Meanwhile, the ports of Houston, Galveston, Freeport and Texas City were under condition “Yankee”. With gale force winds were predicted within 24 hours, all inbound vessel traffic was suspended at these ports.

(Reporting by Arathy Somasekhar in Houston; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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