July 21, 2024
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA

Hurricane Beryl Hits Category 5, Threatens Caribbean Islands


Hurricane Beryl has rapidly intensified into a “potentially catastrophic” Category 5 storm, according to the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC). This formidable storm, heading towards Jamaica, has already wreaked havoc on other southeastern Caribbean islands, causing extensive damage by bringing down power lines, damaging houses, and flooding streets.

Beryl, noted as the earliest Category 4 storm ever recorded, made its initial landfall on the island of Carriacou in Grenada earlier on Monday. By 11.00 pm (03:00 GMT), the NHC reported that Beryl had escalated to a Category 5 hurricane. The center warned that while fluctuations in strength are expected, Beryl is likely to maintain its major hurricane intensity as it moves across the Caribbean.

Carriacou experienced a direct and devastating hit from the storm’s “extremely dangerous eyewall,” with sustained winds exceeding 240 kilometers per hour (150 mph). The neighboring islands of Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines also faced “catastrophic winds and life-threatening storm surge,” according to the NHC.

Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dickon Mitchell, described the aftermath in Carriacou: “In half an hour, Carriacou was flattened.” He confirmed one fatality but noted that communication with Carriacou and Petite Martinique was largely severed, complicating the assessment of damage and casualties. “We do hope there aren’t any other fatalities or any injuries,” he said, highlighting the challenges in reaching these areas. Government teams are scheduled to evaluate the situation on the islands early Tuesday. Streets from St Lucia to Grenada were littered with debris, including downed power lines, trees, and other objects.

Vichelle Clark King, a shop owner in Bridgetown, Barbados, expressed her devastation as she surveyed her sand and water-filled store: “Right now, I’m real heartbroken.”

The NHC forecasted that Beryl would approach Jamaica by Wednesday. Jamaica’s government has issued a hurricane warning, while tropical storm warnings are in effect for parts of the southern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The last significant hurricane to impact the southeastern Caribbean was Hurricane Ivan, which claimed dozens of lives in Grenada 20 years ago. Beryl became the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic season on Saturday, quickly intensifying to Category 4.

Experts attribute this unusually powerful early-season storm to climate change. Rising temperatures in the North Atlantic have increased surface water evaporation, providing more fuel for intense hurricanes with higher wind speeds. “Climate change is loading the dice for more intense hurricanes to form,” said Christopher Rozoff, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.

Meteorologist Andra Garner noted that Beryl rapidly escalated from a Category 1 to a Category 4 storm in less than 10 hours. Her research indicates that rising water temperatures over the past five decades have made it more than twice as likely for storms to intensify rapidly. In May, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted above-normal hurricane activity for the Atlantic this year, citing unusually high ocean temperatures.

Despite the impending storm, some residents, like Welton Anderson, a waiter at Chillin’ restaurant in Kingston, Jamaica, remained calm. “Jamaicans wait until the last minute. The night before or in the morning, the panic sets in. It’s because we’re used to this,” he remarked. Meanwhile, across the eastern Caribbean, residents prepared by boarding up windows, stocking up on supplies, and fueling their cars. In Mexico, authorities issued warnings and urged the population to exercise “extreme caution” as they prepared for Beryl’s potential impact later in the week.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2024/07/01/weather/hurricane-beryl-caribbean-landfall-monday/index.html

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