Beryl strengthens into a Category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic as it bears down on Caribbean

Beryl strengthened into a hurricane on Saturday as it tracked towards the southeastern Caribbean, with forecasters warning it was expected to strengthen into a dangerous major hurricane before reaching Barbados on Sunday evening or early Monday.

A major hurricane is considered a Category 3 or higher, with winds of at least 111 mph. Beryl is currently a Category 1 hurricane.

A hurricane warning was issued for Barbados and a hurricane watch was in effect for St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while a tropical storm watch was issued for Martinique, Dominica and Tobago. Hurricane watches were in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while a tropical storm watch was issued for Martinique, Dominica and Tobago.

A satellite image of Hurricane Beryl in the Atlantic Ocean. June 29, 2024.

NOAA


More than fifty years have passed since a hurricane appeared before July 4 in the Atlantic basin. Alma hit the Florida Keys on June 8, 1966, according to Weather Underground.

“It’s amazing to see a major hurricane forecast in June anywhere in the Atlantic, let alone this far east in the depths of the tropics, with #Beryl hastily organizing over the warmest waters on record for late June,” Florida-based hurricane expert Michael Lowry posted on social media.

Beryl is the second named storm in what is expected to be a busy hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November. 30 in the Atlantic. Last week, tropical storm Alberto brought. Torrential flooding in parts of southern Texas and northeastern Mexico. It was responsible for at least four deaths in the Mexican states of Nuevo Leon and Veracruz.

According to CBS News weather producer David Parkinson, Beryl is the easternmost hurricane to form in June, and one of only two to form east of the Caribbean, the other occurring in 1933.

Parkinson expects Beryl to remain south of Jamaica and predicts any U.S. impact is still at least eight days away.

The center of Beryl is expected to pass about 26 miles south of Barbados, said Sabu Best, director of the island’s weather service.

As of Saturday, Beryl was located about 720 miles east-southeast of Barbados, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. It was moving west at 22 mph.

“Rapid strengthening is now expected,” said the National Hurricane Center, based in Miami.

Atmospheric scientist Tomer Burg noted that Beryl was only a tropical depression with winds of 35 mph on Friday.

“This means that according to preliminary data, Beryl already met the criteria for rapid intensification even before becoming a hurricane,” he wrote on X.

Warm waters feed Beryl, with ocean heat content in the deep Atlantic the highest on record for this time of year, according to Brian McNoldy, a tropical meteorology researcher at the University of Miami.

Beryl is also the strongest June tropical storm on record in the far eastern tropical Atlantic, according to Klotzbach.

“We must be ready,” Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley said in a public speech Friday evening. “You and I know that when these things happen, it’s best to plan for the worst and pray for the best.”

She noted that thousands of people were in Barbados for the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup final, with India beating South Africa on Saturday in the capital Bridgetown. It is considered to be the biggest cricket event.

Some fans, like Shashank Musku, a 33-year-old doctor who lives in Pittsburgh, rushed to change flights to leave before the storm.

Musku has never experienced a hurricane: “I don’t plan to be part of one either.”

He and his wife, who were supporting India, discovered Beryl through a taxi driver who mentioned the storm.

Meanwhile, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said in a public address on Saturday that shelters would open on Sunday evening and urged people to prepare. He ordered officials to refuel government vehicles and asked grocery stores and gas stations to stay open later, ahead of the storm.

“There will be such a rush… if you limit the times,” he said, apologizing in advance for government interruptions to radio stations broadcasting information about the storms. “Cricket fans have to accept that we have to give information… it’s life and death.”

Beryl is the second named storm in what is expected to be a busy hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November. 30 in the Atlantic. Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Alberto hit northeastern Mexico with heavy rains that left four people dead.

Lowry noted that only five named tropical storms have formed in the Atlantic, east of the Caribbean. Of those, only one record-breaking hurricane formed east of the Caribbean in June.

Mark Spence, a hostel manager in Barbados, said in a telephone interview that he was calm about the approaching storm.

” It’s the season. You can have a storm at any time,” he said. “I’m always ready. I always have enough food at home.”

Beryl was expected to bring up to six inches of rain to Barbados and nearby islands, and a warning for waves of up to 13 feet was in effect. A storm surge of up to seven feet is also expected.

The storm is approaching the southeastern Caribbean just days after the twin nation of Trinidad and Tobago reported significant flooding in the capital, Port-of-Spain, following an unprecedented weather event. report.

Meanwhile, an unnamed storm in early June dumped more than 20 inches of rain on parts of South Florida, stranding many motorists on flooded streets and pushing water into some homes in low-lying areas .

According to the National Hurricane Center, the first hurricane season typically forms in early to mid-August, making Beryl unusual for reaching hurricane strength. In a report Released last month, NOAA predicted an “above average” hurricane season with 17 to 25 storms, 8 to 13 hurricanes and 4 to 7 major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.

A tropical storm is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph, while a hurricane is defined as a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds greater than 74 mph.

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