Hurricane Beryl upgraded to Category 4, earliest on record

Hurricane Beryl in the eastern Caribbean Sea grew to a Category 4 storm on Sunday, becoming the earliest such storm on record.

Beryl is threatening to bring extremely dangerous winds and storm surge to the Windward Islands. The storm has sustained winds of 130 mph, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The first hurricane of the season, it’s the only Category 4 ever to occur in June.

“Potentially catastrophic hurricane-force winds, a life-threatening storm surge, and damaging waves” are forecast for the Windward Islands, NWS predicted. The highest risk is in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, where the storm is expected to make landfall early Monday.

As the storm moves west through the southern Caribbean, it is expected to bring strong winds and waves to the south coasts of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. It is currently forecast to make landfall in Cancun, Mexico, as a tropical storm Friday.

“Beryl has rapidly intensified into a dangerous major hurricane. It’s rare to see a storm rapidly intensify this fast, this early in the season, in this part of the Atlantic,” AccuWeather hurricane forecaster Alex DaSilva said in a statement. “Several islands across the Lower Antilles are facing an extreme risk to lives and property.”

“Beryl is strengthening in an area with favorable conditions for tropical development,” he continued. “There is nothing to slow this storm down before it hits St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

An NWS advisory Saturday also noted that “[a] life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 5 to 7 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore flow near where Beryl makes landfall in the hurricane warning and watch areas.”

“Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves,” the advisory continued.

When it comes to rainfall, NWS said in the advisory that the storm “is expected to produce rainfall totals of 3 to 6 inches across Barbados and the Windward Islands Sunday night into Monday.”

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