Hurricane Beryl intensifies into a "dangerous" Category 4 storm

Hurricane Beryl intensifies into a "dangerous" Category 4 storm.

 Hurricane Beryl intensifies into a "very dangerous" Category 4 storm approaching the Caribbean.

Beryl, the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic season, intensified into a very dangerous Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph on Sunday as it headed toward the Windward Islands.

Beryl is now the oldest Category 4 hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and the only Category 4 storm ever recorded in June.

Tropical storm-force winds are expected to reach the Windward Islands late Sunday or early Monday.

The early timing of the first hurricane this season is unusual, given that the average date of the first hurricane is August 11.

At 8 p.m. Eastern time, Beryl was about 200 miles southeast of Barbados, heading west.

"A life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels to 6 to 9 feet above normal tide levels in overland flow areas near where the eye makes landfall in the hurricane warning area," the National Hurricane Center said, adding that it could The rise could cause large, destructive waves near the coast.

The hurricane is rapidly strengthening, increasing to 55 mph in the 24 hours leading up to Sunday morning.

"We expect rapid intensification and expect Beryl to become a major hurricane before it reaches places like Barbados and the Windward Islands and to continue to be a strong hurricane as it moves into the eastern and central Caribbean as we move into the early parts of next year," Hurricane Center Director Mike Brennan told the Network's, Frederica Whitfield. CNN on Saturday.

The Hurricane Center defines rapid intensification as an increase in maximum sustained wind speeds of 35 mph or more within 24 hours.

Brennan said residents in places with tornado warnings should be prepared for the impacts of major storms. Beryl threatens torrential rains, damaging hurricane-force winds, storm surges, and dangerous waves. The center said rainfall totals of 3 to 6 inches could lead to localized flooding across the Windward Islands Sunday night and Monday.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for Barbados, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada and Tobago.

The weather center said the hurricane will dump 3 to 6 inches of rain across Barbados and the Windward Islands through Monday. Beryl's passage near Grenada's Windward Islands and St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a powerful Category 4 hurricane would make it the strongest storm since Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

The agency said Tobago was placed under a level red warning - the highest public alert issued by the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service - early Sunday evening. The warning directs island residents to act immediately to protect their lives, livelihoods, and property.

"Shelter in place or evacuate to a safe location if your home is unsafe or vulnerable to flooding or wind damage," the agency said in a notice to the public. "Secure food, water, and medicine in waterproof containers for at least seven days. External drains should be clear and secured now. Sandbags should be near all entrances to your home.

According to the hurricane center, the Dominican Republic government issued a tropical storm warning ahead of Beryl from Punta Palenque west to the border with Haiti.

The center's update said a tropical storm warning has also been issued for the entire southern coast of Haiti, from the Dominican Republic border to Anse Daignault. A tropical storm warning remains in effect for Martinique, and a tropical storm watch remains in effect for Dominica and Trinidad.

Communities prepare for the hurricane

In Barbados, where Beryl's effects are expected to appear late Sunday, people across the island nation prepare.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley urged all non-essential businesses on the island to close by 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

On Sunday, the Barbados Meteorological Service said that Beryl's center is expected to pass about 75 miles south of the island early Monday morning. The storm could bring hurricane-force winds, heavy rain, flash flooding, and severe thunderstorm activity.

"The truth is we don't want to put anyone's life in danger in this country," Mottley said in a video message Saturday night.

Barbados, Grenada, and Lucia will close some airports on Sunday night as Beryl approaches.

Grenada's Maurice Bishop International Airport will close at 6 p.m. It is tentatively scheduled to reopen on Tuesday at 10 a.m., a Grenada Airports Authority spokesperson told CNN. He noted that operating hours may change depending on the situation, and officials will provide updates on their social media account, Spice Weather 473.

In Barbados, Grantley Adams International Airport announced that it will close at 7 p.m. until further notice.

According to the tourism authority, Hewanorra International Airport and George F.L. Charles Airport in St. Lucia will also suspend operations.

Mottley noted that Barbados hosts cricket fans worldwide who have traveled to the island for the T20 World Cup.

"Our visitors are here with us," she said. "Some won't leave until Monday and Tuesday, and some have never been through a hurricane or storm."

She urged residents to support those who cannot leave on Sunday and to continue preparations for themselves.

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