Hurricane Beryl nears Caribbean, strengthens to Category 4

Hurricane Beryl nears Caribbean, strengthens to Category 4
Hurricane Beryl nears Caribbean, strengthens to Category 4

The Atlantic hurricane season kicks off with Beryl, which has strengthened to a “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm as it moves closer to the southeastern Caribbean.

The first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic season, Beryl, has become a Category 4 storm, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Sunday.

“Reconaissance aircraft find Beryl now an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane,” it said, warning that life-threatening winds and storm surge expected in the Windward Islands, a group of islands that includes Martinique, Saint Lucia and Grenada, early on Monday.

According to the NHC, the hurricane is located about 565 kilometers east-southeast of Barbados, with maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour. Earlier on Sunday, Beryl was already upgraded to Category 3.

A Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale is considered a major hurricane, and a Category 4 storm has sustained winds of at least 209 kilometers or 130 miles per hour.

Caribbean bracing for hurricane’s approach

Countries in the region began shutting down on Sunday as government officials urged people to take shelter.

In the Barbadian capital of Bridgetown, cars were lined up at gas stations. Supermarkets and grocery stores were crowded with shoppers buying food, water and other supplies. Some households were already boarding up their homes.

Hurricane watches were issued for Barbados, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Tobago, while tropical storm watches or warnings were in effect for Martinique and Dominica, the NHC said in its latest advisory.

According to Sabu Best, director of Barbados’ meteorological service, Beryl’s center is expected to pass about 112 kilometers south of Barbados on Monday morning.

It was then expected to move out into the Caribbean as a major hurricane on a path toward Jamaica. It should weaken by mid-week, but still be a hurricane on its way to Mexico.

What is a hurricane?

A hurricane is a storm system rotating around an area of low pressure that produces strong winds and heavy rain. The storm is classified as a hurricane when the sustained wind speeds exceed 119 kilometers per hour.

Hurricane season begins on May 15 in the Pacific and June 1 in the Atlantic. It ends in both regions on November 30th.

Hurricanes often gain strength as they move over the ocean. Over land, they quickly lose strength because of the lack of warm, moist air masses.

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