Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Beryl is becoming the first major Atlantic hurricane of the year


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Hurricane Beryl strengthened Saturday as it headed toward the southeastern Caribbean Sea, with meteorologists warning it was expected to develop into a dangerous major storm before making landfall in 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, 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, St. Lucia, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A tropical storm warning has been issued for Martinique and Tobago and a tropical storm warning has been issued for Dominica.

“It is surprising to see a major (Category 3+) hurricane forecast in June anywhere in the Atlantic, let alone so 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, Beryl’s center was about 660 miles (1,060 kilometers) east-southeast of Barbados, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph). It was moving west at 22 mph (35 kph).

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

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Atmospheric scientist Tomer Borg noted that Beryl was just a tropical depression with winds of 35 mph 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, as ocean heat content in the deep Atlantic was the highest on record for this time of year, according to Brian McNoldy, a tropical meteorologist 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 families and our neighbours,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said in a public address on Saturday evening, calling for all businesses to 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 in order to Twenty20 Cricket World Cup FinalWith India beating South Africa on Saturday in the capital Bridgetown, it is considered the biggest event in cricket.

Some fans, like Shashank Moscow, a 33-year-old doctor who lives in Pittsburgh, quickly changed their flights to leave before the storm.

“I don’t plan on being in a tornado either,” Mosco said by phone, saying he had never been in a tornado before.

He and his wife, who were heading to India, found out about Beryl thanks to a taxi driver who mentioned the storm.

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

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“There will be such a rush… if you keep the hours limited,” he said, apologizing in advance for the government’s interruption 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 seasonwhich runs 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 formed in June in the tropical Atlantic Ocean east of the Caribbean Sea, and only one of those storms was a hurricane. One of those storms was the first hurricane in 1933, the most active hurricane season on record, he said.

Mark Spence, a hotel manager in Barbados, said by phone that he was calm about the approaching storm.

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

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

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

Hurricane Beryl is expected to cause rainfall of up to 15 centimeters in Barbados and nearby islands, and a wave warning of waves reaching 4 meters has also been issued. A thunderstorm of up to two meters in height was also expected.

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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.

Meanwhile, A 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.