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Hurricane Beryl strengthens into the first major hurricane in the Atlantic this year

Hurricane Beryl strengthens into the first major hurricane in the Atlantic this year

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Hurricane Beryl strengthened Saturday as it headed toward the southeastern Caribbean Sea, with meteorologists warning it was expected to develop into a dangerous major storm before making landfall in Barbados late Sunday. Or early Monday.

A major hurricane is a Category 3 or higher, with winds of at least 111 mph (178 km/h). On Saturday night, Beryl was a Category 1 hurricane, the furthest east a hurricane has formed in the tropical Atlantic in June, breaking the record set in 1933, according to Philip Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University.

A hurricane warning has been issued for Barbados, Saint Lucia, Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. A tropical storm warning has been posted for Martinique and Tobago and a tropical storm watch for Dominica.

“It is surprising to see a major (Category 3+) hurricane forecast in June anywhere in the Atlantic, let alone so far east in the deep tropics. #beryl “Rapid storm organization over warmest waters on record in late June,” Florida-based hurricane expert Michael Lowry posted on X.

Sabo Best, director of the Barbados Meteorological Service, said that the hurricane’s center is expected to pass 45 kilometers south of Barbados. Meteorologists then expect the storm to cross the Caribbean Sea on its way to Jamaica and then Mexico.

On Saturday night, Beryl’s center was about 660 miles (1,060 kilometers) east-southeast of Barbados, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph). It was moving west at 22 mph (35 kph).

“The hurricane is now expected to rapidly strengthen,” the Miami-based US National Hurricane Center said.

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Atmospheric scientist Tomer Borg noted that Beryl was just a tropical depression with winds of 35 mph on Friday.

“This means that according to preliminary data, Beryl has already met the criteria for rapid intensification before turning into a hurricane,” he wrote on social media platform X.

Warm waters were feeding the Beryl, as ocean heat content in the deep Atlantic was the highest ever recorded for this time of year, according to Brian McNoldy, a tropical meteorologist at the University of Miami.

Beryl is also the strongest tropical storm for June on record in the easternmost tropical Atlantic, according to Klotzbach.

“We remain fully vigilant and need to take every precaution we can for ourselves, our families and our neighbours,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said in a public address on Saturday evening, calling for all businesses to close by Sunday evening. “We don’t want to put anyone’s life at risk.”

She pointed out that thousands of people are in Barbados. Twenty20 Cricket World Cup FinalWith India’s victory over South Africa on Saturday in the capital, Bridgetown. It is considered the biggest event in cricket.

Some fans, like Shashank Moscow, a 33-year-old doctor who lives in Pittsburgh, were quick to change flights to leave before the storm.

“I don’t plan on being in a hurricane either,” Moscow said by phone.

He and his wife, who were heading to India, found out about Beryl thanks to a taxi driver who mentioned the storm.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said in a public address on Saturday that shelters would open on Sunday evening and urged people to prepare. He ordered officials to refuel government vehicles and asked grocery stores and gas stations to stay open until later before the storm.

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“There will be such a rush… if you keep the hours limited,” he said, apologizing in advance for the government’s interruption to radio stations with storm updates. “Cricket fans will have to bear with us that we will have to provide information…this is life or death.”

Beryl is the second named storm in what is expected to be a Busy hurricane seasonWhich lasts from June 1 to November 30 in the Atlantic Ocean. Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Alberto It came ashore in northeastern Mexico with heavy rains that killed four.

Lowry noted that in records dating back to 1851, only five named storms formed in June in the tropical Atlantic Ocean east of the Caribbean Sea, and only one of those storms was a hurricane. One of those storms was the first hurricane in 1933, the most active hurricane season on record, he said.

Mark Spence, a hotel manager in Barbados, said by phone that he was calm about the coming storm.

“It’s the season. You can catch a storm at any time,” he said. “I’m always prepared. I always have enough food in my house.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects the 2024 hurricane season to be well above average, with between 17 and 25 named storms. The forecast calls for up to 13 hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

The average Atlantic hurricane season produces 14 named storms, seven of which are hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Beryl is expected to drop up to six inches (15 cm) of rain on Barbados and nearby islands, and a storm surge warning has been issued for waves up to 13 feet (4 meters). A storm surge of up to seven feet (2 meters) is also expected.

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The storm is approaching the southeastern Caribbean Sea just days after the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago suffered major flooding in the capital, Port of Spain, as a result of an unrelated weather event.

Caribbean leaders are not only concerned about Beryl, but also about a cluster of thunderstorms closely tracking Beryl, which has a 70% chance of becoming a tropical depression by the middle of next week.

Meanwhile, A Storm Without a Name Earlier in June, more than 20 inches (50 cm) of rain fell on parts of South Florida, stranding many motorists on flooded streets and pushing water into some homes in low-lying areas. .