‘Extremely Dangerous’ Hurricane Beryl Takes Aim at Caribbean

By | July 1, 2024

Hurricane Beryl, described by forecasters as “extremely dangerous,” is set to cause massive damage across the Caribbean’s Windward Islands on Monday.

Beryl’s winds roared across the region at 120 miles (195 kilometers) per hour, making it a Category 3 hurricane as it churned westward toward Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 5 a.m. New York time.

Beryl is “taking aim” at the Windward Islands, an arc-shaped chain in the eastern Caribbean, it said. Hurricane warnings are in effect for islands including Barbados and St. Lucia, and the storm could produce as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rainfall in the Grenadines and Grenada.

Earlier, Beryl reached Category 4 status, with maximum sustained winds of at least 130 miles per hour. Fluctuations are expected within the next day or so.

“Potentially catastrophic hurricane-force winds, a life-threatening storm surge, and damaging waves are expected when Beryl passes over portions of the Windward Islands with the highest risk of the core in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada beginning early Monday morning,” Philippe Papin, a hurricane specialist at the center, said in a forecast.

What forecasters find alarming is that Beryl formed in an area of the Atlantic between the Caribbean and the Cabo Verde Islands in June. This stretch of ocean, called the main development region, doesn’t usually become active until late August.

An early start due to warm water and optimal conditions there portends future disasters, and the hurricane center is already tracking what may be the season’s next storm after Beryl.

After Beryl crosses the Windward Islands, it will move through the sea potentially threatening Haiti, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands through the week, before possibly making landfall in Mexico on Friday.

Most computer models keep Beryl away from US offshore oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico, but there is an outside chance the storm may threaten the region later this week.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Chris moved inland near Tuxpan, Mexico, in the Bay of Campeche. It will bring heavy rainfall and possibly mudslides in higher terrain.

Before the six-month season started June 1, forecasters were already predicting the Atlantic would produce upwards of 20 or more storms, when an average year churns out 14.

Beryl is the farthest east a hurricane has formed in June and will be only the third powerful storm to track through the Caribbean before August since 1851, Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, said in an email interview.

The records Beryl has shattered were set in 1933, when the fourth-most active year in the Atlantic also released the most energy, and 2005, which had the second-highest number of storms behind 2020.

“This isn’t a good sign for the upcoming season,” Klotzbach said.

Photograph: A boarded building before hurricane Beryl lands in Bridgetown, Barbados, on June 29, 2024. Photo credit: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Topics Catastrophe Natural Disasters Hurricane

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