Hurricane Beryl is churning west after hitting Caribbean islands. Where it’s headed next. (2024)

Hurricane Beryl, unprecedented for its rate of strengthening, intensity and location for this time of year, morphed into a Category 5 monster on Monday night as it became the strongest Atlantic storm ever observed during July.

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Tracking Hurricane Beryl

Hurricane Beryl is churning west after hitting Caribbean islands. Where it’s headed next. (1)Hurricane Beryl is churning west after hitting Caribbean islands. Where it’s headed next. (2)

We’re tracking the path of Hurricane Beryl, which is expected to make landfall along the Texas coast Monday. Follow live updates.

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After making landfall Monday on Grenada’s Carriacou Island, the storm was churning west in the Caribbean. Beryl weakened to a high-end Category 4 on Tuesday afternoon as its maximum sustained winds decreased from a peak of 165 to 155 mph. Additional weakening is forecast in the days ahead, but the National Hurricane Center expects serious impacts from the storm in Jamaica on Wednesday, as well as along Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula by Thursday night or Friday.

Beryl is still expected to be a major — Category 3 or higher — hurricane as it sweeps along Jamaica’s southern coast. “Devastating hurricane-force winds, life-threatening storm surge, and damaging waves are expected,” the Hurricane Center wrote.

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Officials in Grenada on Tuesday were struggling to understand the extent of the destruction, particularly on the small and hard-hit islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, where roads were impassable and rough sea conditions prevented the coast guard from accessing them.

Grenadian Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said at least three people were killed and the possibility that the toll could rise was a “grim reality.”

He said he was first able to reach an official in Carriacou on Tuesday morning and only for a brief call by satellite phone.

“As a nation, we are coming to grips with the devastation” in Carriacou and Petite Martinique, Mitchell said at a news conference. “The situation is grim. There is no power. There is almost complete destruction of homes and buildings.”

He said that many gas stations had been damaged on the smaller islands, where access to fuel is a “challenge at the best of times,” leaving the heavy-equipment machines without the fuel they need to clear roads. A hospital in Carriacou was also damaged.

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Photos of Hurricane Beryl

Hurricane Beryl is churning west after hitting Caribbean islands. Where it’s headed next. (3)Hurricane Beryl is churning west after hitting Caribbean islands. Where it’s headed next. (4)

Hurricane risk is growing for Texas as Beryl pulls away from Yucatán Peninsula. See more photos here.

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The hurricane severely damaged homes, schools and churches in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and had left “immense destruction, pain and suffering” in its wake, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said Monday night.

He said one person had reportedly died, but he did not have many details. “There may well be more fatalities,” Gonsalves said in an address. “We are not yet sure.”

At least 90 percent of the homes and businesses on Union Island in the southern Grenadines had been destroyed or damaged, he said, including its airport.

In Jamaica, government offices and universities closed Tuesday as the storm drew closer. Officials called on residents to stock up on supplies and other essentials and urged those in low-lying and flood-prone areas to evacuate to shelters.

“I am encouraging all Jamaicans to take the hurricane as a serious threat,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in a statement. “It is, however, not a time for panic. It is a time for us to be very strategic and calculated in our approach.”

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Carlton Darien, membership chair for the Jamaica Red Cross in St. Elizabeth Parish, a large parish in the southwestern part of the country, said the agency has ambulances and drivers at the ready and its shelters are prepared.

“We’re just hoping for the best,” Darien told The Washington Post, “but we’re still prepared.”

Beryl’s remarkable strength is driven by favorable weather and a background of human-driven climate warming. Relaxed high-altitude winds, the spreading of air aloft and the presence of an antecedent tropical wave all made for the formation of a hurricane — but record-warm water temperatures, reminiscent of September, helped transform the storm into a top-tier tempest.

There is a strong, well-documented link between the effects of human-induced climate change and the development of stronger, wetter storms that are more prone to rapidly intensify. Beryl sprung from a tropical depression to a Category 4 hurricane in just 48 hours, the fastest any storm on record has strengthened before September.

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Meteorologists expect the remainder of 2024’s hurricane season to be extremely active or hyperactive. Weak winds aloft, which make it easier for storms to form, will be paired with broad ascent (rising motion) over the Atlantic. Both of those factors can be tied to a budding La Niña weather pattern. Coupled with red-hot sea surface temperatures running 2 to 4 degrees above average, it’s no surprise that more storms, and more intense storms, are expected to crop up in the months ahead.

Mitchell said Grenada was experiencing a “traumatic event” in its history — one that was “overwhelming proof” of the threat posed to small island states by climate change.

“When we speak to those nations that have created this climate crisis based on the burning of fossil fuels, we have yet another clear and overwhelming evidence of the fact that we are constantly facing an existential threat to our way of life,” he said, “and so we want them to move past the talking and be able to realize that resources are in fact needed to build our resilience and to build our sustainability against this ever-present threat that they have created.”

Where Beryl is now and could go next

As of 5 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday, the center of Hurricane Beryl was 125 miles southeast of the Dominican Republic’s Isla Beata. It was also 420 miles away from Kingstown, Jamaica. The storm was moving west-northwest at a quick 22 mph.

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Tropical storm warnings are in effect through Wednesday morning for the southern coasts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic as the storm passes by. A general 4 to 8 inches of rain — which could lead to flash flooding — is projected in western parts of Haiti’s southern peninsula, and on Barahona Peninsula in the southwestern Dominican Republic.

Beryl is expected to hit Jamaica on Wednesday, its center passing perilously close to its southern coast, and the Cayman Islands on Wednesday night into Thursday. Localized rainfall totals up to 12 inches are possible in Jamaica, leading to flooding, while the ocean surge could push water levels 5 to 8 feet above normally dry land along its south coast.

Beryl could become only the third major hurricane, rated Category 3 or higher, on record to track within 100 miles of Jamaica in July.

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Later this week, the storm is expected to hit Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula still at hurricane strength, with gusts of 90 to 100 mph at the immediate coastline where the eyewall comes ashore. That could push ashore a storm surge of 3 to 6 feet.

As the storm enters the warm waters of the southwestern Gulf of Mexico by around Friday evening, conditions could become more favorable for it to intensify again.

By late in the weekend or early next week, there’s an outside chance Beryl could become a threat for the coasts of Tamaulipas or Veracruz in Mexico or extreme South Texas. There’s also a chance the storm takes more a stronger turn to the north over the gulf, which would place areas farther north along the Texas coast at risk or even coastal Louisiana early next week.

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

Hurricane Beryl is churning west after hitting Caribbean islands. Where it’s headed next. (2024)

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