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Hurricane Beryl Approaches Caribbean, Life-Threatening Category 4 Storm

Hurricane Beryl, the first major hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic season is closing in on the Windward Islands in the southeast Caribbean. As of late Sunday night, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) classified Beryl as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm.

Hurricane Beryl Approaches Caribbean, Life-Threatening Category 4 Storm

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As of 11 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 30, 2024, Hurricane Beryl was situated approximately 150 miles southeast of Barbados. The storm is moving westward at a speed of 20 mph and was closing in rapidly on the Windward Islands.

Hurricane Beryl has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, categorizing it as an extremely powerful Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

In effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Tobago. These regions are bracing for severe weather conditions.

Issued for Martinique, indicating that these areas could experience tropical storm conditions imminently. In effect for Dominica and Trinidad, signaling that tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 48 hours.

The NHC has warned of life-threatening storm surge of up to 9 feet in the regions where Beryl will make landfall.

Heavy rainfall is expected with up to 6 inches projected for Barbados and surrounding islands.

Hurricane Beryl’s swift escalation from a tropical depression to a major hurricane in just 42 hours is a rare event in Atlantic hurricane history. This intensification has been matched only six times before with the earliest date being September 1.

Hurricane Beryl stands out as one of only three Category 3 or higher hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic during June, alongside Audrey in 1957 and Alma in 1966.

The first hurricane of the Atlantic season forms in early to mid-August, making Beryl’s early appearance in late June.

The island nation has seen long lines at gas stations and grocery stores as residents rush to prepare. Prime Minister Mia Mottley has urged people to plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has called for the opening of emergency shelters and extended business hours to ensure people have adequate time to prepare.

Leaders across the affected regions are taking the threat seriously, urging residents to prepare for a major impact and not to underestimate the severity of the situation.

Hurricane Beryl’s intensification has been by exceptionally warm ocean waters with ocean heat content in the deep Atlantic currently at record highs for this time of year.

According to CBS News weather producer David Parkinson, Beryl is the farthest east a hurricane has formed in June and one of only two to do so east of the Caribbean, with the previous occurrence dating back to 1933.

Hurricane Beryl is expected to move across the Windward Islands early Monday and continue through the southeastern Caribbean on Monday night and Tuesday.

While Parkinson predicts that Beryl will remain south of Jamaica and any impacts on the US are still at least eight days away.

The NHC continues to send hurricane hunters to gather more data ensuring that accurate and up-to-date information is available for those in the storm’s path.

Authorities have begun opening shelters, closing businesses and urging residents to store essential supplies including potable water.

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The Twenty20 Cricket World Cup final in Barbados saw thousands of visitors, many of whom are now facing difficulties leaving the island due to weather conditions.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has forecast an above-average hurricane season with 17 to 25 named storms, 8 to 13 hurricanes and 4 to 7 major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.

The National Hurricane Center has warned of a storm surge that could elevate water levels by as much as 6 to 9 feet above normal tides near Beryl’s landfall area.

This surge is expected to create towering waves, hazardous surf and dangerous rip currents, posing risks to small vessels and fishermen.

Flash flooding is anticipated in parts of the Windward Islands and Barbados with rainfall predictions of 3 to 6 inches through Monday and up to 10 inches in isolated areas, particularly in the Grenadines and Grenada.

Local officials have addressed the severity of the threat, urging residents to take all necessary precautions.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has called for extreme vigilance, while Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has urged citizens to prepare for the worst.

Hurricane warnings are in place for Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Tobago.

Tropical storm warnings are issued for Martinique and Trinidad. Additional tropical storm watches are in effect for Dominica, the southern coast of the Dominican Republic and the southern coast of Haiti.

Over 400 people in Barbados have been evacuated to hurricane shelters as a precautionary measure. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, the Chief Shelter Warden has advised those who are not comfortable in their homes to seek refuge in these shelters.

Grenada has declared a state of emergency from Sunday night to Tuesday morning, mandating the closure of all businesses except essential services such as police, hospitals and ports.

Airports in Barbados, Grenada, and Saint Lucia have been closed in anticipation of Beryl’s arrival.

Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport is expected to reopen on Tuesday morning, while Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport and St. Lucia’s Hewanorra International and George Charles airports have also halted operations.

Hurricane Beryl is being the earliest major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) in the Atlantic in 58 years. It is the third-earliest major hurricane in Atlantic history, following Hurricane Alma in 1966 and Hurricane Audrey in 1957.

It has set the record for being the easternmost hurricane to form in the Tropical Atlantic in June.

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