Hurricane Beryl Strengthens to Become First Major Atlantic Hurricane of the Year

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Beryl strengthened into a hurricane Saturday as it moved toward the southeastern Caribbean Sea, with forecasters warning it was expected to become a major, dangerous storm before reaching Barbados late Sunday or early Monday.

A major hurricane is a Category 3 or higher, with winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph). On Saturday night, Beryl was a Category 1 hurricane, marking the easternmost tropical Atlantic hurricane to form in June, breaking a record set in 1933, according to Philip Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University.

A hurricane warning has been issued for Barbados, Saint Lucia, Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. A tropical storm warning has also been posted for Martinique and Tobago and a tropical storm warning for Dominica.

“It is surprising to see a major hurricane (Category 3+) forecast for June anywhere in the Atlantic, let alone this far east in the deep tropics. #beryl “Hastely organizing over the warmest waters ever recorded in late June,” Florida-based hurricane expert Michael Lowery posted on X.

Beryl’s center is expected to pass about 26 miles (45 kilometers) south of Barbados, said Sabu Best, director of the island’s meteorological service. Forecasters then expect the storm to cross the Caribbean on its way to Jamaica and eventually Mexico.

On Saturday night, Hurricane Beryl’s center was about 660 miles (1,060 kilometers) east-southeast of Barbados, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kilometers per hour). It was moving west at 22 mph (35 km/h).

“The hurricane is now expected to rapidly strengthen,” the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

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Atmospheric sciences researcher Tomer Borg noted that Beryl was just a tropical depression with winds of 35 miles per hour on Friday.

“This means that according to preliminary data, Beryl has already met the criteria for rapid intensification before turning into a hurricane,” he wrote on social media platform X.

Warm waters were fueling the beryl, with oceanic heat content in the deep Atlantic Ocean being the highest it has ever been for this time of year, according to Brian McNoldy, a researcher in tropical meteorology at the University of Miami.

Beryl is also the strongest June tropical storm ever recorded this far east in the tropical Atlantic, according to Klotzbach.

“We remain fully vigilant and need to take every precaution we can for ourselves, our family and our neighbours,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said in a public address on Saturday evening, requesting that all businesses close by Sunday evening. “We don’t want to put anyone’s life at risk.”

She pointed out that thousands of people are in Barbados. Twenty20 Cricket World Cup FinalWith India’s victory over South Africa on Saturday in the capital, Bridgetown. It is considered the biggest event in cricket.

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

Mosco said by phone that he had never seen a tornado before: “I don’t plan to be in a tornado either.”

He and his wife, who were fans of India, learned about Brill thanks to a taxi driver who mentioned the storm to him.

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The Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 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 remain open later in advance of the storm.

“There will be such a rush… if you keep the hours limited,” he said, apologizing in advance for government interruptions to radio stations with storm updates. “Cricket fans will have to bear with us that we will have to provide information…this is life or death.”

Beryl is the second named storm in what is expected to be a busy hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30 in the Atlantic Ocean. Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Alberto It made landfall in northeastern Mexico with heavy rains that killed four people.

Lowry noted that in records dating back to 1851, only five named storms have formed in June in the tropical Atlantic east of the Caribbean, and only one of them was a hurricane. That was the first hurricane of 1933, which was the most active hurricane season on record, he said.

Mark Spence, the manager of a hostel in Barbados, said by phone that he was calm about the coming storm.

“It’s the season. You can catch a storm at any time,” he said. “I’m always prepared. I always have enough food in my house.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects the 2024 hurricane season to be well above average, with between 17 and 25 named storms. The forecast calls for up to 13 hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

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The average Atlantic hurricane season produces 14 named storms, seven of which are hurricanes and three are major hurricanes.

Beryl is expected to dump up to six inches (15 cm) of rain on Barbados and neighboring islands, and a high surf warning has been activated for waves up to 13 feet (4 metres). A storm surge of up to seven feet (two meters) is also expected.

The storm is approaching the southeastern Caribbean just days after the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago experienced major flooding in the capital, Port of Spain, as a result of an unrelated weather event.

Caribbean leaders are concerned not only about Beryl, but also about a group of thunderstorms that closely track Beryl’s path, and which have a 70% chance of becoming a tropical depression by the middle of next week.

at the same time, A storm without a name Earlier in June, flooding dumped more than 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain on parts of South Florida, stranding many motorists on flooded streets and pushing water into some homes in low-lying areas.

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