Life-threatening Hurricane Beryl closes in on Caribbean

A life-threatening Category 3 storm is expected to slam into the Caribbean, endangering several island communities with violent winds and flash floods.

A life-threatening Category 3 storm, dubbed Hurricane Beryl, is expected to hit the Caribbean on Monday, endangering several island communities with violent winds and flash floods.

Grenada, St. Vincent, Tobago, St Lucia and the Grenadines are expected to be in Beryl’s path and officials are pleading with people to take shelter.

“This is a very dangerous situation,” warned the US National Hurricane Center in Miami, saying Beryl was “forecast to bring life-threatening winds and storm surge”.

The hurricane had been a Category 4 storm before weakening slightly. It marked the earliest point in the year that a Category 4 storm had been recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane Beryl’s winds batter Carlisle Bay in Bridgetown, Barbados. / Credit: AP

Beryl had been expected to pass just south of Barbados and then head into the Caribbean Sea.

It is forecast to weaken midweek, but will still remain a hurricane heading toward Mexico.

If it regains some of its strength, it is poised to be the strongest storm in the region since Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Hurricane specialist and storm surge expert Michael Lowry said: “Beryl is an extremely dangerous and rare hurricane for this time of year in this area,” Lowry said in a phone interview.

“Unusual is an understatement. Beryl is already a historic hurricane and it hasn’t struck yet.”

A man boards up a door in preparation for Hurricane Beryl. / Credit: AP

“So this is a serious threat, a very serious threat,” Lowry said of Beryl.

Forecasters warned of a life-threatening storm surge of up to 9ft in areas where Beryl makes landfall, with three to six inches of rain in Barbados and nearby islands and possibly ten inches in some areas.

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

Lowry said the waters are now warmer than they would be at the peak of the hurricane season in September.

Caribbean leaders were preparing not only for Beryl, but for a cluster of thunderstorms trailing the hurricane that had a 70% chance of becoming a tropical depression.

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

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

An average Atlantic hurricane season produces 14 named storms, seven of them hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

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