Tropical Storm Beryl expected to become a hurricane, season’s first

Tropical Storm Beryl is expected to strengthen into the first hurricane of the season Sunday night or Monday as it heads toward the Caribbean.

It is expected to be at least a Category 3 hurricane, bringing damaging winds, heavy rains and potentially life-threatening storm surges, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in an advisory Saturday.

A hurricane watch was in effect Saturday on several Caribbean islands. The NHC predicted the storm would strengthen into a hurricane before reaching the Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles, a group in the Caribbean Sea.

Researchers are predicting a particularly busy hurricane season. Beryl’s early arrival made it one of the few storms in history to form in the region so early in the year, the Hurricane Center said.

Beryl is expected to strengthen quickly, the NHC announced on Saturday. As of midday, the storm was about 820 miles east-southeast of Barbados, with maximum winds of 65 mph.

“The storm has been on a steady strengthening trend since forming yesterday,” the NHC wrote in an early afternoon update, “and now that its structure is more symmetrical and compact, it will likely have the opportunity to intensify rapidly.”

A hurricane watch was in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Islands. A tropical storm watch was in effect for Martinique, Tobago and Dominica.

The storm is expected to bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to Barbados and the Windward Islands. Hurricane conditions are possible by Sunday evening or Monday morning in areas under watch, the NHC said.

Matthew Cappucci contributed to this report.

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