Hurricane Beryl an 'extremely dangerous' Cat 4 storm as it barrels toward Caribbean (2024)

Beryl's center was forecast to move across the Windward Islands early Monday.

Krystal Nurse,Dinah Voyles Pulver,Susan MillerUSA TODAY

Editor's Note: This page is a summary of news on Hurricane Beryl for Sunday, June 30. For the latest news updates on the Hurricane Beryl, view our live storm updates file.

Beryl — the first hurricane of the 2024 season — intensified Sunday into a high-octane, "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm packing life-threatening winds as it barreled toward the Caribbean.

Beryl is about 150 miles southeast of Barbados and 245 miles east-southeast of St. Vincent, with maximum sustained winds at 130 mph, the National Hurricane Center said at 11 p.m. But fluctuations in strength are possible over the next day or so.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds extend out up to 115 miles from the center, according to the center's update.Tropical storm watches were posted for Dominica and the southern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. A tropical storm warning was also issued for Martinique and Trinidad.

As Beryl crosses the Windward Islands on Monday, potentially catastrophic wind damage is expected where the eyewall moves through, with the highest risks of the core in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, the hurricane center added."Wind speeds atop and on the windward sides of hills and mountains are often up to 30 percent stronger than the near-surface winds" indicated in advisories, "and in some elevated locations could be even greater," the hurricane center said.

Hurricane warnings, meaning hurricane conditions are expected in the area, were in effect Sunday for Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadine Islands, Grenada, and Tobago.

Beryl could bring 1 to 4 inches of rain to southeastern Puerto Rico on Monday night and into Tuesday.

Beryl is the first hurricane of what is expected to be an extraordinary 2024 season. Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the season, left at least four people dead in Mexico after it made landfall on June 20. Beryl underwent rapid intensification: It was declared a tropical depression and then a tropical storm on Friday, and by Sunday was a major hurricane.

By Thursday night, the hurricane center named the third tropical storm of the season. Tropical Storm Chris developed in the Bay of Campeche and located about 105 miles southeast of Tuxpan, Mexico, by 11 p.m.

Fueled by warm water: Hurricane Beryl, super-charged by warm seas, stuns experts

Track Beryl's path: Tropical storm Beryl expected to become first Atlantic hurricane of 2024 season

The third earliest Atlantic major hurricane on record

As Beryl strengthened, it's setting several records, according to Phil Klotzbach, a senior research scientist at Colorado State University. They include:

∎ The first June major hurricane east of the Lesser Antilles on record.

∎ The third earliest Atlantic major hurricane on record, trailing Alma on June 8, 1966, and Audrey on June 27, 1957.

∎ Beryl is now the earliest Category 4 hurricane on record. The current record was held by Hurricane Dennis which became a Category 4 on July 8, 2005.

See Beryl's eye: Hurricane Beryl's eye on NOAA satellite

Will Hurricane Beryl hit the US?

It's too soon to determine the path and strength of Beryl when the storm gets to the western half of the Caribbean later this week − and whether it could impact the U.S. Gulf Coast. The hurricane center expects Beryl to remain a hurricane as it reaches Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Friday.

But forecasters warned U.S. residents to stay vigilant. "At this point, the most likely scenario is for the storm to move westward into Mexico; however, it is very important to note that if the high pressure across the Southeast weakens, that can allow the storm to move farther north and potentially directly impact the Gulf Coast," AccuWeather Lead Hurricane Forecaster Alex DaSilva said.

Tropical Storm Chris

On Sunday afternoon, Tropical Depression 3 formed in the southern Gulf of Mexico about 185 miles east-southeast of Tuxpan, Mexico, with sustained winds of 35 mph. It became the season's third tropical storm by late Sunday and had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

The storm was expected to weaken and dissipate as it moves inland over Mexico on Monday. A tropical storm warning was in effect for Cabo Rojo to Puerto Veracruz.

"Chris will begin to weaken after landfall and will likely dissipate later on Monday," the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 p.m. advisory.

According to the hurricane center, the system is expected to cause heavy rainfall over parts of eastern Mexico into Monday, which could produce flooding. It's forecast to produce rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches with maximum rainfall totals around 12 inches possible across the higher terrain.

Mudslides were also possible in the higher terrain of the Mexican states of Guanajuato, Queretaro, and San Luis Potosi.

"Due to this threat, the government of Mexico has issued tropical storm warnings along parts of the Mexico gulf coast," AccuWeather said. "Heavy rain and gusty winds have already begun moving into Mexico as of Sunday afternoon and will continue through Monday."

What is rapid intensification?

Rapid intensification is a process in which a storm undergoes accelerated growth: The phenomenon is typically defined to be a tropical cyclone (whether a tropical storm or hurricane) intensifying by at least 35 mph in a 24-hour period.

By 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Beryl had become a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of 130 mph. That's a gain of 95 mph in just 42.5 hours.

"Rapid intensification occurs when a tropical storm or hurricane encounters an extremely conducive environment," Klotzbach said. "Typically, this environment consists of very warm water, low vertical wind shear and high levels of midlevel moisture."

Life-threatening storm surge, flooding likely

Swells from Hurricane Beryl should begin reaching the Windward and southern Leeward Islands by late Sunday and are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip currents. The storm surge as the hurricane arrives on Monday may reach 6 to 9 feet above normal tide levels and bring "large, destructive waves" to the coast, the hurricane center said.

Rainfall could cause flooding and is expected to dump 3 to 6 inches in Barbados and the Windward Islands Sunday night into Monday. Up to 10 inches are possible in isolated locations, especially in the Grenadines.

The hurricane center urged anyone living in the central and western Caribbean to monitor the storm's progression given the uncertainty of the forecast.

What are the Windward Islands?

The Windward Islands are a group of Caribbean islands in the eastern part of the Caribbean Sea. They include Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago are sometimes included in the group.

They are called "windward" − which means upward from a given point − because they are more windward to arriving ships than the Leeward Islands.

What is the outlook for the 2024 hurricane season?

Federal forecasters have predicted a hurricane season unlike any other, with as many as 25 named storms possible.

It is the most storms the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has ever predicted in a preseason outlook. "All the ingredients are in place for an active season," National Weather Service director Ken Graham said in May.

NOAA director Rick Spinrad said the Atlantic hurricane season is shaping up to be "extraordinary" − an 85% chance for an above-average year. "The forecast … is the highest NOAA has ever issued for the May outlook," he said.

See the path of Hurricane Beryl

Current weather advisories in the U.S.

Contributing: Doyle Rice and Mike Snyder, USA TODAY.

Hurricane Beryl an 'extremely dangerous' Cat 4 storm as it barrels toward Caribbean (2024)
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