Hurricane Beryl forecast and track: Storm slamming Jamaica with life-threatening conditions

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(NEW YORK) — Hurricane Beryl is slamming Jamaica with life-threatening impacts.

The eyewall of the Category 4 storm is scraping the south coast of Jamaica Wednesday afternoon and looking, at this time, like it will not make official landfall.

Wind gusts were up to 175 mph as the storm moved past the south side of the island.

Storm surge up to 9 feet and 4 to 8 inches of rain are expected due to the storm. Up to a foot of rain is possible locally, which could trigger flash flooding and mudslides.

As the storm barreled toward Jamaica, the country’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, preemptively declared the entire island a disaster area in an address to the public Tuesday night.

Holmes also said an islandwide curfew will be in place from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time Wednesday.

Although the cyclone has lost some steam as it closes in on Jamaica, it has already caused six deaths in the Caribbean.

Beryl was downgraded to a Category 4 from a Category 5, but its maximum sustained winds remained dangerous at 140 mph Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center. A hurricane warning has been issued for Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

In anticipation of the storm, Jamaican officials shuttered three airports on Tuesday. They will stay closed through Wednesday, and reopening will be announced pending post-storm assessments.

Sangster International Airport (Montego Bay), Norman Manley International Airport (Kingston) and Ian Fleming International Airport (Boscobel) have all closed.

Current forecast beyond Jamaica

The storm is expected to impact the Cayman Islands overnight and into Thursday morning, with winds around 100 mph possible.

A weakening trend will continue through the rest of the week as Beryl sweeps across the Caribbean Sea and encounters less favorable atmospheric conditions.

Beryl will then aim for Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula by the end of the week. The current forecast calls for another landfall sometime on Friday south of Cancun as a Category 1 storm. A hurricane warning is in effect for the coasts of the Yucatan Peninsula, from Puerto Costa Maya to Cancun.

The same general area of eastern Mexico will likely now see impacts from all three of the first named storms of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, after being hit by Tropical Storms Alberto and Chris.

Beyond that, Beryl could weaken to a tropical storm, with maximum winds of 65 mph, but atmospheric conditions could become more favorable as it moves into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. By Sunday morning, Beryl could once again become a hurricane with winds near 75 mph. The current forecast calls for another landfall Sunday or Monday somewhere near the Mexico-U.S. border, near South Padre Island, possibly as a Category 1 storm. Some models push Beryl parallel to the Texas coast.

The storm is expected to bring flooding rain, storm surge and coastal flooding all the way to Corpus Christi by early next week. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is warning of life-threatening rip currents and large surf for the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to Texas.

Deadly storm

The hurricane killed three people in Cariacou in Grenada, where it made landfall on Monday, officials said. Another death from the storm was reported in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and two people were killed in northern Venezuela, officials in those countries said.

Hurricane Beryl had strengthened into a Category 5 storm heading into Tuesday as it moved through the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, becoming the strongest July Atlantic hurricane on record.

Early Tuesday, Beryl was packing maximum winds of 165 mph. The hurricane surpassed the July record of 160 mph maximum winds produced by Hurricane Emily in 2005, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The outer bands of Beryl also brought heavy rain to southern portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti late Tuesday and into Wednesday.

Residents of St. Vincent and the Grenadines were cleaning up Tuesday and assessing damage. Schools, homes, buildings and farmland sustained extensive hurricane damage, officials said. On Union Island, which is part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, authorities said 90% of the houses were either destroyed or severely damaged, and the roof of the Union Island airport was ripped off by the hurricane’s buzzsaw-like winds. Heavy damage was also reported at Argyle International Airport on St. Vincent.

The one death reported in the Grenadines occurred on Bequia Island, officials said.

After touring the damaged areas on Tuesday, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told reporters that Beryl “left in its wake immense destruction.”

Sea surface temperatures in the Caribbean Sea are running warmer than average for this time of the year, more in line with where they would be at the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season rather than early July. This is providing ample fuel for Beryl’s extreme intensification.

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