Hanna, downgraded to a tropical storm, pummels South Texas and Northeast Mexico

"Just because a hurricane comes, doesn’t mean COVID-19 disappears," the governor said on Saturday, before the storm had been downgraded.

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By Ben Kesslen

Heavy rains and dangerous flash floods are pummeling southeast Texas and northeast Mexico on Sunday, as the U.S. National Hurricane Center downgraded Hurricane Hanna to a tropical storm overnight.

Storm Hanna, which became the the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season when it was upgraded Saturday morning from a tropical storm, hits Texas as the state is surging in coronavirus cases, and as Mexico is grappling with similar issues.

The center of the storm continued to move inland over Northeast Mexico on Sunday, with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center believe the storm will continue to weaken as it moves farther inland, and predict it will become a tropical depression by Sunday evening and be gone by Monday.

Still, in South Texas, an additional two to five inches of rain is expected, totaling six to 12 inches in some areas, and up to 16 in isolated parts of the state.

The rain will produce “life-threatening flash flooding, rapid rises on small streams, and isolated minor to moderate river flooding in South Texas,” the National Hurricane Center said

Mudslides and flash flooding are also expected across Northern Mexico.

Surfs in Texas and Louisiana will continue to be intense for the next few days, possibly producing life-threading surf and rip current conditions.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said at a press conference Saturday afternoon that he signed a disaster declaration for 32 Texas counties and has requested a federal emergency declaration as well.

"Just because a hurricane comes, doesn’t mean COVID-19 disappears," the governor said, adding that hurricane shelters are getting sanitized and that he has mobilized testing teams to provide hundreds of oral swab tests per day.

A hundred medical personnel from the Texas National Guard have also been mobilized to provided medical help at shelters if necessary, according to the governor.