Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Hurricane Beryl is expected to intensify into a “dangerous” major storm as it approaches the Caribbean

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CNN

berylThe hurricane, the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic season, is rapidly intensifying as it heads toward Barbados and the Windward Islands, bringing damaging hurricane-force winds and life-threatening storm surge.

The National Hurricane Center says Beryl is expected to become a “dangerous major hurricane” when it reaches the Windward Islands Sunday or Monday evening. The early timing of the first hurricane of the season is unusual, given that the median date of the first hurricane is August 11.

The hurricane center said in a 2 a.m. ET update that Hurricane Beryl is located about 530 miles east-southeast of Barbados, moving west at 20 mph. It is expected to bring life-threatening winds and damaging storm surges beginning Sunday night.

“Devastating wind damage is expected as Beryl’s eyewall moves across parts of the Windward Islands.” National Hurricane Center “A life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels 5 to 7 feet above normal tidal levels in overland flow areas near where Beryl reaches hurricane warning and watch areas,” he said.

The hurricane’s strength increases rapidly, with wind speeds increasing from 35 mph to 75 mph in less than 24 hours. Rapid intensification is defined as an increase in wind speed of 35 mph or more in a 24-hour period. According to a 2 a.m. ET update from the Hurricane Center, Beryl’s maximum sustained winds are about 90 mph with stronger gusts.

“We expect rapid intensification and expect Beryl to become a major hurricane before it reaches places like Barbados and the Windward Islands and to continue to be a strong hurricane as it moves into the eastern and central Caribbean as we move into the early parts of next year,” said Mike Brennan, director of the agency’s National Hurricane Center. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Survey, Frederica Whitfield for CNN on Saturday.

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A major hurricane is classified as a Category 3 or higher with the potential to cause “significant loss of life and damage.”

Brennan said residents in places with tornado warnings should be prepared for the impacts of major storms. Beryl brings the threat of torrential rains, damaging hurricane-force winds, storm surges, and dangerous waves. Rainfall totals of 3 to 6 inches could lead to localized flooding across the Windward Islands Sunday night and Monday, the center said.

Tornado warnings are Valid for BarbadosSt. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. Tropical storm warnings have also been issued for Martinique and Tobago, and a tropical storm alert has been issued for Dominica.

“Interests in the Central and Western Caribbean region should monitor the progress of this system,” the National Center for Health warned on Saturday.

CNN Stormbot

Satellite view of Beryl at 9 p.m. ET Saturday.

Brennan said Hurricane Beryl’s rapid intensification is very unusual this early in the hurricane season. Tropical systems in the mid-Atlantic east of the Lesser Antilles in June are rare, especially strong systems, with only a few occurring. According to NOAA records.

The central and eastern Atlantic typically become most active in August, in part because ocean temperatures have time to warm and feed developing systems.

However, this year the Atlantic Basin saw higher-than-normal water temperatures and a decrease in wind shear due to the transition from an El Niño to a La Niña season, both of which fuel tropical development.

“Beryl found an environment with very warm ocean waters for this time of year,” Brennan said.

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Warmer waters in the Atlantic Basin have given tropical storms and hurricanes the opportunity to develop at a faster pace in a more easterly location, according to Brennan, allowing storms to become more powerful and thus more destructive early in the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30.

“This is ocean water that you normally see in August or September, but now we’re seeing it in late June,” Brennan said. “It kind of opens up more of the depths of the tropical Atlantic to formation before we get to what would be the traditional peak of hurricane season.”

Caribbean Islands urges public to prepare ahead of hurricane

Authorities have urged residents to take precautionary measures, with several Caribbean countries placed under hurricane watches and warnings as Hurricane Beryl approaches and gains strength.

Officials in Barbados say the island is expected to feel the storm’s impact late Sunday night. Its weather service is predicting gale-force winds, 3 to 6 inches of rain, “hazardous” sea conditions and severe thunderstorms that could knock out power.

“All our usual hurricane preparations are well underway. We have less than 48 hours until we expect to see the effects of this system on Barbados. Please use your time very wisely,” Home Affairs and Information Minister Wilfred Abrahams said in a statement.

Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

A closed building in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Saturday.

In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves warned that the storm could hit the islands by Monday morning as a Category 2 hurricane. The weather service expects sustained winds of 74 to 110 mph or more and rainfall of 4 to 6 inches.

“Kingston is going to be flooded once this hurricane is on its path,” Gonsalves said of the capital, Kingston. “Normally, two inches of rain — continuous rain — would be inundating the city in a relatively short period of time. But four inches is definitely going to flood the city.”

In Saint Lucia, the government warned that the storm could bring “heavy rain, thunderstorms and gusty winds” to the region. Prime Minister Philippe J. Pierre advised residents to make necessary preparations and review their families’ emergency plans.

In Grenada, the National Disaster Management Agency is also urging residents to prepare by getting disaster supply kits, trimming trees and overhanging branches, clearing drains, and knowing where their emergency shelters are.

Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Cars line up at a gas station Saturday in Bridgetown, Barbados, as Hurricane Beryl approaches.

These systems forming early in the summer in this part of the Atlantic are a sign of the upcoming active hurricane season, according to Search from Normally, ocean temperatures are not warm enough in June and July to help tropical systems thrive.

National Weather Service Meteorologists predict Of the 17 to 25 named storms this season, eight to 13 become hurricanes, including four to seven major hurricanes.

“This is well above average,” Brennan noted.

The weather service says this is due to “a combination of factors, including near-record warm Atlantic Ocean temperatures, developing La Nina conditions in the Pacific, and reduced Atlantic trade winds and lower wind shear, all of which tend to favor tropical storm formation.”

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