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Beryl, earliest Category 4 hurricane on record, hurtles towards Caribbean

Published 06/30/2024, 08:23 AM
Updated 07/02/2024, 04:21 AM
© Reuters

(Reuters) -The "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm Hurricane Beryl barrelled across the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday night toward the Caribbean's Windward Islands, where it is expected to bring life-threatening winds and flash flooding on Monday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The first hurricane of the 2024 season was located about 150 miles (240 km) southeast of Barbados on Sunday night, with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph), the NHC said in an advisory.

"Beryl is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane as its core moves through the Windward Islands into the eastern Caribbean," the NHC said in its latest advisory.

The center of the hurricane is expected to travel across the Windward Islands on Monday morning as a Category 4 storm, the second-strongest level on a five-step scale, bringing "potentially catastrophic wind damage" to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada.

It is rare for a major hurricane to appear this early in the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. On Sunday, Beryl became the earliest Category 4 hurricane on record, beating Hurricane Dennis, which became a Category 4 on July 8, 2005, according to NHC data.

Hurricane warnings have been issued in Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadine Islands, Grenada and Tobago. A tropical storm watch has been issued for Dominica, Trinidad, and parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Authorities and residents on the Caribbean islands were preparing for the storm's arrival.

Tobago has opened shelters, closed schools for Monday, and cancelled elective surgeries in the hospitals, authorities said.

The hurricane is expected to bring 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm) of rain across Barbados and the Windward Islands throughout the day on Monday, which the NHC warned could cause flash flooding in vulnerable areas.

© Reuters. People shop before the arrival of Hurricane Beryl, Bridgetown, Barbados, June 30, 2024. REUTERS/Nigel R Browne

Large, dangerous swells are also expected to batter the southern coasts of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola.

In May, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted above-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic in 2024, in part due to near-record warm ocean temperatures.

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