Hurricane Beryl expected to rapidly intensify as it races toward Caribbean

Hurricane Beryl is gaining strength as it charges toward the Caribbean where it is predicted to strike with powerful winds and flooding storm surge. Beryl reached hurricane status on Saturday afternoon with Category 1 winds of 75 mph just 24 hours after the system was first formed as a tropical depression over the Atlantic Ocean. As of 5 p.m. EDT Saturday, it was heading west at 22 mph, a brisk pace for a hurricane.

AccuWeather meteorologists are expecting that the system will continue to intensify and may even undergo rapid intensification, becoming the first major hurricane in the Atlantic (sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour) before reaching the Windward Islands early next week.

“Beryl continues to strengthen as it moves toward the Lesser Antilles, as the environment around the storm is becoming more conducive,” said AccuWeather Lead Hurricane Forecaster Alex DaSilva.

Due to the threat, the Meteorological Service of Barbados issued a hurricane warning for the island Saturday afternoon. Late Saturday morning, hurricane watches were issued by other government agencies to include St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadine Islands and Grenada.

“The storm will continue to be steered west-northwestward across the Caribbean Sea by a large area of high pressure through the middle of next week,” said DaSilva.

AccuWeather began referring to the system as a tropical rainstorm on Thursday to help raise public awareness of the risk to lives and property along the storm’s path.

As Beryl tracks west, higher-than-historical-average water temperatures will be one of the primary factors leading to the potential for rapid intensification.

AccuWeather has been anticipating a super-charged hurricane season for 2024 since this past winter

Interaction with the larger islands of the Caribbean as well as bouts of wind shear and dry air may still become inhibiting factors to the storm reaching its full potential. However, AccuWeather meteorologists now expect that the impact of these factors will be minimal, allowing Beryl to become a major hurricane by Monday and maintain this status beyond that into the southern Caribbean.

The AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes is a 3 for the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean, with the expectation that the storm will become a Category 3 (maximum sustained winds of 111-129 mph) by the time it reaches those islands. As Beryl continues west-northwest, additional numbers will be issued on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes as it approaches other land masses.

Beyond its trek through the Caribbean, all eyes will turn toward the United States. At this point, AccuWeather hurricane experts expect the U.S. to avoid impacts from the storm. That being said, residents should not let their guard down.

“Direct impacts to the United States look unlikely; however, it is very important to note that if the high pressure across the Southeast weakens, that can allow the storm to move farther north and potentially directly impact the Gulf Coast,” explained DaSilva.

Tropical storms and hurricanes in the central and eastern Atlantic are rare this early in the season. This area of the Atlantic, known as the main development region, does not typically spawn tropical storms and hurricanes until mid-August or later.

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