Caribbean braces for powerful Hurricane Beryl

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Hurricane Beryl plowed toward the southeast Caribbean early Monday as officials warned residents to seek shelter ahead of powerful winds and swells expected from the Category 3 storm.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned that Beryl -- currently churning in the Atlantic Ocean about 110 miles (175 kilometers) southeast of Barbados -- remained “a dangerous major hurricane as its core moves through the Windward Islands into the eastern Caribbean.”

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Beryl was at one point rated Category 4, and experts said such a powerful storm forming this early in the Atlantic hurricane season -- which runs from early June to late November -- is extremely rare.

“Only five major [Category 3+] hurricanes have been recorded in the Atlantic before the first week of July,” hurricane expert Michael Lowry posted on social media platform X.

“Beryl would be the sixth and earliest this far east in the tropical Atlantic.”

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Grenada were at the highest risk of being at the center of the storm’s core beginning early Monday, the NHC said, adding that “potentially catastrophic wind damage is expected.”

Barbados, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Tobago were all under hurricane warnings, the NHC said, while tropical storm warnings or watches were in effect for Martinique and farther along the storm’s path, in southern Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

A state of emergency was declared in Tobago, the smaller of the two islands that make up Trinidad and Tobago, with schools ordered closed on Monday, top official Farley Augustine said.

Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell urged citizens to quickly seek shelter and to respect an island-wide curfew ordered for 7:00 pm to 7:00 am Tuesday morning.

A meeting this week in Grenada of the Caribbean regional bloc CARICOM was postponed due to the hurricane.

In the Barbadian capital of Bridgetown, cars were seen lined up at gas stations, while supermarkets and grocery stores were crowded with shoppers buying food, water and other supplies. Some households were already boarding up their properties.

Beryl became the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic season early Saturday morning and quickly strengthened to Category 4, the first ever to reach that level in June, according to NHC records.

Devastating wind damage


A Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale is considered a major hurricane, and a Category 4 storm packs sustained winds of at least 130 miles per hour (209 kilometers per hour).

Beryl was packing maximum sustained winds that were estimated at 130 mph, the NHC said around 5:00 pm (2100 GMT) Sunday.

Beryl is expected to remain powerful as it moves across the Caribbean, the NHC said, warning residents and officials in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and the rest of the northwestern Caribbean to carefully monitor its progress.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in late May that it expects this year to be an “extraordinary” hurricane season, with up to seven storms of Category 3 or higher.

The agency cited warm Atlantic Ocean temperatures and conditions related to the weather phenomenon La Nina in the Pacific for the expected increase in storms.

Extreme weather events including hurricanes have become more frequent and more devastating in recent years as a result of climate change.

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Hurricane Beryl bears down on Caribbean

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