Tropical storm Hanna is expected to make landfall in Texas on Saturday with heavy rains that could result in flash flooding along the Texas coast, where oil refineries and LNG facilities are located.

Early on Friday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its 7 a.m. CDT advisory that tropical storm Hanna was about 285 miles east of Corpus Christi, with gradual strengthening expected until the tropical cyclone makes landfall. Hanna is expected to produce rain that may result in life-threatening flash flooding, rapid rises on small streams, and isolated minor to moderate river flooding in south Texas. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the mouth of the Rio Grande to San Luis Pass, Texas.

According to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University specializing in Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane forecasts, Hanna has formed in the Gulf of Mexico and is the earliest 8th Atlantic named storm formation on record. The previous record was Harvey in August 2005.

The Atlantic hurricane season comes as emergency services in Texas are overstretched with the spike in coronavirus cases in the state and other U.S. states. Another tropical storm, Gonzalo, has already formed and is expected to bring tropical storm conditions to the southern windward islands on Saturday, the NHC said.

At the start of the hurricane season, companies operating in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico evacuated workers from oil facilities ahead of the storm Cristobal.

The Gulf of Mexico accounts for some 17 percent of U.S. oil production. In 2018, hurricane Michael shut in production of more than 700,000 bpd for a few days.  

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Earlier this year, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, forecast an above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, with the outlook predicting a 60-percent chance of an above-normal season, a 30-percent chance of a near-normal season and only a 10-percent chance of a below-normal season. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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