«Extremely dangerous» Hurricane Beryl is heading towards the southeastern Caribbean

The «extremely dangerous» Hurricane Beryl was moving through Caribbean waters this Sunday and the National Hurricane Center anticipated that it will reach the Windward Islands this Monday and then continue in a southeast direction.

Barbados, Saint Lucia, Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were on hurricane alert. The center of Beryl is expected to pass about 70 miles south of Barbados on Monday morning, said Sabu Best, director of the Barbados weather service.

«This is a very serious situation developing for the Windward Islands,» the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned, as Beryl is carrying «life-threatening winds in addition to a storm surge.»

This Sunday, Beryl was located about 250 miles southeast of Barbados, with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (mph) and moving west at 18 mph. It is a compact hurricane, with gale-force winds extending 15 miles from its center.

Due to its potential for devastation there was also a tropical storm warning for Martinique and a tropical storm watch for Dominica and Trinidad.

Beryl is expected to pass just south of Barbados early Monday and then move into the Caribbean Sea as a major hurricane heading toward Jamaica. It is forecast to weaken by midweek, but will remain a hurricane as it heads toward Mexico.

Beryl became a historic hurricane

Beryl strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday morning, becoming the first major hurricane east of the Lesser Antilles on record in June, according to Philip Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University.

It only took 42 hours for Beryl to go from a tropical depression to a major hurricane, something that had only been recorded six other times in the history of Atlantic hurricanes. And Sept. 1 had been the earliest date in the season for a cyclone to record rapid strengthening like that, according to hurricane expert Sam Lillo.

Beryl is now the earliest Category 4 Atlantic hurricane on record, surpassing Hurricane Dennis, which became a Category 4 hurricane on July 8, 2005, said hurricane specialist and storm surge expert Michael Lowry.

«Beryl is an extremely dangerous and unusual hurricane for this time of year in this area,» he said in a telephone interview. «Unusual is an understatement. Beryl is already a historic hurricane and it hasn’t hit yet.»

Hurricane Ivan in 2004 was the last strongest hurricane to hit the southeastern Caribbean, causing catastrophic damage in Grenada as a Category 3. «So this is a serious, very serious threat,» Lowry said, referring to Beryl.

Forecasters warned of a potentially deadly storm surge of up to 9 feet in areas where Beryl will make landfall, with up to 6 inches of rain for Barbados and nearby islands.

According to Brian McNoldy, a tropical meteorology researcher at the University of Miami, warm waters have boosted Beryl, as the ocean heat content in the deep Atlantic is the highest on record for this time of year. Lowry said the waters are now warmer than they would be at the peak of hurricane season in September.

Beryl is the easternmost hurricane to form in the tropical Atlantic in June, breaking a record set in 1933, according to Klotzbach.

The population prepares for storm Beryl

In Barbados, long lines formed at gas stations and grocery stores as people rushed to prepare for a rapidly intensifying storm.

Thousands of people were in Barbados to attend the Twenty20 World Cup final, cricket’s biggest event, on Saturday, and Prime Minister Mia Mottley said not all fans were able to leave on Sunday despite many They rushed to change their flights. «Some of them had never been through a storm before,» she declared. «We have plans to serve them.»

Mottley said all businesses should close on Sunday afternoon and warned the airport would close overnight.

In Saint Lucia, Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre announced a national lockdown for Sunday night and said schools and businesses would remain closed on Monday. «The preservation and protection of life is a priority,» he said.

A difficult hurricane season

Caribbean leaders were preparing not only for Beryl, but also for a group of thunderstorms that follow the hurricane and have a 70% chance of becoming a tropical depression.

Beryl is the second named storm of what is expected to be an above-average hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30 in the Atlantic. Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Alberto made landfall in northeastern Mexico with heavy rains that caused four deaths.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects the 2024 hurricane season to be well above average, with between 17 and 25 named storms. Up to 13 hurricanes and four very intense hurricanes are expected.


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