Hurricane Beryl makes landfall on Grenada's Carriacou Island as life-threatening Category 4 storm

This season is already off to a busy start as a 2nd storm made landfall near Tuxpan, Mexico, off the Gulf Coast early Monday

ByElizabeth Wolfe, CNN CNNWire logo
Monday, July 1, 2024
Hurricane Beryl makes landfall on Grenada's Carriacou Island as life-threatening Category 4 storm
Hurricane Beryl makes landfall on Grenada's Carriacou Island as life-threatening Category 4 storm

Hurricane Beryl is roaring through the Windward Islands as an extremely dangerous Category 4, delivering violent winds, intense rainfall and life-threatening storm surge after making landfall Monday.

Beryl made landfall shortly after 11:00 a.m. EDT on Grenada's Carriacou Island in the Caribbean Sea with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph. It is the strongest known hurricane to pass through the Grenadines, according to data from NOAA that goes back to 1851.

The storm triggered power outages, flooded streets and ushered in storm surge flooding for parts of the Grenadines, Grenada, Barbados and Tobago Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Beryl's arrival marks an exceptionally early start to the Atlantic hurricane season. On Sunday it became the earliest Category 4 on record in the Atlantic Ocean and the only Category 4 in the month of June. The abnormally warm ocean waters that facilitated Beryl's alarming strengthening are a clear indicator that this hurricane season will be far from normal in a world warming due to fossil fuel pollution.

Beryl is breaking records for June because the ocean is as warm now as it would normally be at the peak of hurricane season, said Jim Kossin, a hurricane expert and science advisor at nonprofit First Street Foundation.

"Hurricanes don't know what month it is, they only know what their ambient environment is," Kossin told CNN. "Beryl is breaking records for the month of June because Beryl thinks it's September."

Kossin added the ocean heat fueling Beryl's unprecedented strengthening "certainly have a human fingerprint on them."

The latest on Beryl:

  • Beryl is a dangerous hurricane: The storm is located near Carriacou Island, which is part of Grenada, has sustained winds of 150 mph and is moving to the west-northwest at 20 mph. Beryl's hurricane-force winds extend 40 miles from center while tropical-storm-force winds extend about 125 miles.

  • Life-threatening storm surge and flooding: The National Hurricane Center warned that "life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 9 feet above normal tide levels" when Beryl made landfall. Towering waves could also create life-threatening surf and rip currents and threaten small vessels and fishermen well after landfall. Flash flooding is also a concern in parts of the Windward Islands and Barbados. Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley warned citizens to be "extremely vigilant."

  • Hurricane warnings: Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadine Islands, Grenada and Tobado. A hurricane watch is in effect for Jamaica. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Martinique, Trinidad and St. Lucia. Tropical storm watches are in effect for the south coast of Dominican Republic from Punta Palenque westward to the border with Haiti, and the south coast of Haiti from the border with the Dominican Republic to Anse-d'Hainault.

  • Hundreds evacuated: More than 400 people were being housed in hurricane shelters across Barbados on Sunday night, the nation's Chief Shelter Warden, Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, told CNN affiliate CBC News. "I am pleased that people are using the shelters, if they are not comfortable at their homes, it is best to go to a shelter," she said.

  • State of emergency in Grenada: A state of emergency was declared by Grenadian Governor General Cecile La Grenade which will remain in effect from Sunday night to Tuesday morning. All businesses will must close except the police force, hospitals, prisons, waste disposal and ports.

  • Airports closed: Airports in Barbados, Grenada and Saint Lucia were closed Sunday night as Beryl approached. Grenada's Maurice Bishop International Airport is expected to reopen Tuesday morning, a spokesperson said. The Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados and St. Lucia's Hewanorra International and George Charles airports have also halted operations.

  • Cricket World Cup fans stuck: Barbados is still hosting cricket fans from around the globe who traveled to the island for the T20 World Cup, some of whom will not be able to evacuate before Beryl arrives. "Our visitors are here with us," said Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley. "Some of them are not due to leave until Monday and Tuesday, and some of them have never gone through a hurricane or a storm before." She implored residents to provide support for visitors, if possible.

Where Beryl is headed next

Landfall is far from the end of Beryl's story, and it's long-term path is still uncertain.

The hurricane will track generally west or northwest over the Caribbean Sea through Thursday, and is expected to remain a major hurricane - Category 3 or stronger - into midweek before losing a bit of strength.

Even so, the hurricane will remain formidable with strong winds, torrential rain and hazardous seas extending well beyond its center over much of the Caribbean. Beryl's center could pass just south of Jamaica on Wednesday and bring heavier impacts to the country even if it doesn't make landfall there.

Several days are likely to elapse between Beryl's first landfall in the Windward Islands Monday and its next likely landfall on or around Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula around Friday morning.

What happens after Beryl's next landfall will also determine if the cyclone is able to reach the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend. If Beryl is able to survive its journey over land and reach the bathtub-warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it could spell trouble for northeast Mexico or possibly the US Gulf Coast.

An unprecedented start to hurricane season

This season is already off to a busy start as a second storm - Tropical Storm Chris - made landfall near Tuxpan, Mexico, off the Gulf Coast early Monday.

Beryl is ushering in a troubling start to a hurricane season that forecasters have warned will be hyperactive - and Beryl's record-shattering activity may be a sign of what's to come.

Beryl is the earliest major hurricane - defined as one that is Category 3 or higher - in the Atlantic in 58 years. The storm's rapid intensification is very atypical this early into hurricane season, according to National Hurricane Center Director Mike Brennan. It's rare for tropical systems to form in the central Atlantic east of the Lesser Antilles in June, particularly strong ones, as only a handful of tropical systems have done so, according to NOAA records.

The storm isn't just early for this season. It is now the Atlantic Ocean's third-earliest major hurricane. The earliest was Hurricane Alma on June 8, 1966, followed by Hurricane Audrey, which reached major hurricane status on June 27, 1957.

Beryl has also set the record for the easternmost hurricane to form in the Tropical Atlantic in June, beating a previous record set in 1933.

The central and eastern Atlantic traditionally become more active in August, in part because ocean temperatures have had time to warm and fuel developing systems.

This year, however, the Atlantic basin has seen above normal water temperatures and a lack of wind shear due to the transition from El Niño season to La Niña season, both of which are fuel for tropical development.

"Beryl has found an environment with very warm ocean waters for this time of year," Brennan said.

Systems forming this early in the summer in this part of the Atlantic is a sign of the hyperactive hurricane season to come, according to research from Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane expert and research scientist at Colorado State University. Normally, ocean temperatures aren't warm enough in June and July to help tropical systems thrive.

National Weather Service forecasters predict 17 to 25 named storms this season, with as many as 13 of those becoming hurricanes.

"That's well above average," Brennan noted.

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