Hurricane Beryl becomes a Category 4 storm on its way through the Caribbean

Beryl on Sunday exploded into a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph — the first storm of that intensity ever recorded in the Atlantic — and Caribbean islands braced for violent storms.

The National Hurricane Center said Beryl could cause “life-threatening” problems in the Lesser Antilles, an island chain in the eastern Caribbean Sea. A hurricane warning has been issued for Barbados, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Tobago, while a tropical storm warning covers Martinique.

“All arrangements should be completed today,” the hurricane center said Published Sunday at 11 am. Forecasters expect Beryl to cross the Caribbean and move into the northwestern part of the ocean, affecting the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Researchers have been warning for months that the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season could be one for the record books, and now it is.

What to know about the location of Beryl and the products of the islands

As of 1:45 p.m. ET, Beryl was about 300 miles east-southeast of Barbados and moving west at 21 mph.

St. Lucian Prime Minister Philip J. Bear said Emergency services officials declared a national shutdown for the country of about 170,000 people starting at 8:30 p.m. local time on Sunday.

“We need to stay together and support each other as we prepare, but we hope and pray that we will be saved,” he said. said In a video message.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Meteorological Service on Sunday provided A flash flood warning for its 100,000 residents.

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At noon on a Sunday, Michael Tiller was looking out at the blue sky and calm, clear blue water from the patio of the vacation home he rented in Barbados.

“You can’t really tell when a hurricane is coming,” the Michigan resident said. “It’s such a beautiful day here.”

Tiller plans to sneak down once the wind blows. Property managers at the home he shares with his family during the week arrived early Sunday and boarded up windows and glass doors.

However, to his surprise, they didn’t take the patio furniture or give him any other instructions.

To stay updated and keep her family safe, Tiller follows weather updates online from Barbados-based meteorologist Sabu Best, who provides updates every three hours.

Strong winds and power outages leave the family reeling, but Tiller isn’t worried.

“I’m calm and not particularly worried,” he said. “There will be suffering, but in the grand scheme of things it will be good for us.” The family plans to return to the US on Wednesday.

How fast the storm intensified

Beryl went from a tropical storm to a Category 3 hurricane in 36 hours; At that time it was accelerating to 75 mph. According to DTN Weather analyst Sam Lillo, that level of rapid intensity has never happened in June, and only twice in July.

By Sunday morning, it had reached Category 4 intensity.

This is very unusual

There is no precedent for a storm to strengthen so rapidly or to reach this strength in this part of the ocean in June. Records date back to 1851.

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When fluxes occur, there is a strong link between rapid intensification (strengthening hurricanes) and human-induced climate change. Seawater runs 3 or 4 degrees above average, more reminiscent of August than June. In some cases, records are set. Not surprisingly, the atmosphere responds accordingly.

Before this, the Atlantic had only seen two major hurricanes in June – Audrey in 1957 and Alma in 1966. “Major” hurricanes are rated as Category 3 or higher. Both Audrey and Alma occurred as early “inland” storms in the Gulf of Mexico. The main development area of ​​the Atlantic, located between northern South America and Africa, has always been believed to be inhospitable to major hurricanes in June – until now.

In addition to very warm ocean water, loose upper-level winds played an important role in its development. If upper-level winds are too strong, they can tear apart a developing storm. Winds are usually hostile in June, but not this year.

Low pressure in the northwest and high pressure in the north and east helped push the air out From a short strand of beryl, it “vents” and helps to intensify quickly. (Imagine putting a fan at the top of a chimney—the more air you blow at the top, the more the flames will burn as the fuel burns below.)

Where can Beryl go next?

Beryl will hit the Lesser Antilles on Monday, probably in the Windward Islands, with sustained winds of 130 mph or more. As its strong winds are concentrated in the center, the specific path of the storm’s eye will determine its exact impacts.

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The National Hurricane Center expects a storm surge of 6 to 9 feet and 3 to 6 inches of rain.

High pressure to the north will act as a force field over the mid-Atlantic, preventing beryl from escaping to the ocean. That’s why beryl keeps moving westward.

By Tuesday, Beryl will enter the eastern Caribbean and move further west or slightly west-northwest. As it encounters shear, or changes in wind with altitude, it may be so weakened that it knocks it over.

Its final destination in the Caribbean is unknown. Both Jamaica and Cuba can play. So is the Yucatan Peninsula. At this stage, it seems more likely to attack Mexico.

There is also a possible scenario where Beryl could cross the gap between Cancun and western Cuba where it enters the Gulf of Mexico – a low chance at this point. The likelihood of that scenario and the range of potential impacts will not be known for several days.

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