Hurricane Beryl Nears Category 5 Strength as US Embassy Issues Warning

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
July 1, 2024Weather
Hurricane Beryl Nears Category 5 Strength as US Embassy Issues Warning
Tourists look at the sea waves as the hurricane Beryl passes near to Bridgetown, Barbados, on July 1, 2024. (Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

Hurricane Beryl strengthened as it churned toward several small Caribbean island nations on July 1, officials said, as the U.S. Embassy issued a warning for American citizens who are visiting small island nations.

As of Monday at noon, the storm was rated as a Category 4 by the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC), which reported that Beryl had winds of 150 mph—about 7 mph shy of a Category 5 hurricane.

Beryl will continue to “produce catastrophic winds and life-threatening storm surge” for the Grenadine Islands, Carriacou Island, and Grenada on Monday, the agency said.

Hurricane warnings were in effect for Barbados, Grenada, Tobago, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines as thousands of people hunkered down in homes and shelters. The last strong hurricane to hit the southeast Caribbean was Hurricane Ivan 20 years ago, which killed dozens of people in Grenada.

The storm was located about 15 miles west of Carriacou Island in Grenada and 30 miles north of the main island of Grenada itself, moving 20 mph west-northwest, according to the NHC.

Local media reports in St. Vincent and the Grenadines said they received reports of roofs being torn off churches and schools as communications began collapsing across the southeast Caribbean.

In Grenada, officials had declared a state of emergency that would go into effect starting at 7 p.m. on June 30 and remain in effect for a week, the country’s prime minister, Dickon Mitchell, told reporters over the weekend.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for St. Lucia, Martinique, and Trinidad. A tropical storm watch was issued for Haiti’s entire southern coast, and from Punta Palenque in the Dominican Republic west to the border with Haiti. A hurricane watch was issued for Jamaica, the NHC’s forecast said.

A notice from the U.S. Embassy said that American citizens who are living in or visiting Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines should pay attention to weather conditions. At the same time, the State Department announced it shut down the U.S. embassy offices in Grenada and Barbados.

“We advise U.S. citizens to monitor local and regional emergency management organizations for updates on the situation and for information on emergency preparedness,” a bulletin said.

The U.S. Embassy added that its Port of Spain office is “closely monitoring this situation and strongly encourages U.S. citizens in the Eastern Caribbean to do so as well. Please share this message with other U.S. citizens who might not have received it.”

Forecasters warned of a life-threatening storm surge of up to 9 feet in areas where Beryl made landfall, with 3 to 6 inches of rain for Barbados and nearby islands and possibly 10 inches in some areas, especially in Grenada and the Grenadines.

The storm was expected to weaken slightly over the Caribbean Sea on a path that would take it just south of Jamaica and later toward Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 1.

After the hurricane passes Jamaica, Beryl is expected to hit a broad swath of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. But after that, the storm is forecast to weaken into a tropical storm, according to the NHC’s modeling. Separate models show that the storm could have a chance of angling to the northwest in the Gulf of Mexico before striking somewhere in the southeastern United States, while other suggest it could move across Mexico or Central American before passing into the Pacific Ocean.

In May, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the NHC, forecast above-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic this year.

An average Atlantic hurricane season produces 14 named storms, seven of them hurricanes and three of them major hurricanes. But federal forecasters say that there will be tween 17 and 25 named storms, with 13 hurricanes and four major hurricanes that are Category 3 or higher.

Beryl is the second named storm of this hurricane season. Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Alberto came ashore in northeastern Mexico with heavy rains that resulted in four deaths.

The official Atlantic hurricane season started on June 1 and will end on Nov. 30. Peak activity usually occurs in early September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times