Hurricane Beryl rips off homes in Caribbean, strengthens to category 5 hurricane as it razes southeast

Wilfred Abrahams, minister of home affairs and information, said drones which are faster than crews fanning across the island would assess damage once Beryl passes

Beryl strengthened from a tropical depression to a major hurricane in just 42 hours (Photo: Reuters)
Beryl strengthened from a tropical depression to a major hurricane in just 42 hours (Photo: Reuters)

Hurricane Beryl ripped off doors, windows and roofs in homes across the southeast Caribbean on Monday as the Category 4 storm arrived on Carriacou island. However, there has been no reported deaths or injuries while communication is largely down across the region. The last strong hurricane to hit the southeast Caribbean was Hurricane Ivan 20 years ago, which killed dozens of people in Grenada.

With winds as high as 150 mph (240 kph), which is just short of a Category 5 hurricane, shoes, trees, toppled power lines, and a plethora of other debris were strewn across the streets from St. Lucia island south to Grenada. Beryl was travelling 21 mph (33 kph) in a west-northwest direction and was situated approximately 575 miles (925 km) east-southeast of Isla Beata in the Dominican Republic. On Wednesday, Beryl could potentially create hurricane conditions in Jamaica.

Even as Beryl started to move into the Caribbean Sea on a path that would take it just south of Jamaica and towards Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula by late Thursday, as a Category 1 hurricane, it was still sweeping the southeast Caribbean late Monday afternoon.

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A hurricane warning was in effect for Jamaica, and a tropical storm warning for the entire southern coast of Hispaniola, an island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. “Beryl is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane as it moves over the eastern Caribbean,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Additionally, officials on Monday received reports of devastation from Carriacou and surrounding islands, said Terence Walters, Grenada’s national disaster coordinator. 

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said he would travel to Carriacou as soon as it’s safe, noting there’s been an “extensive” storm surge. Grenada officials had to evacuate patients to a lower floor after the hospital roof was damaged, he said. “There is the likelihood of even greater damage,” he told reporters. “We have no choice but to continue to pray.”

Wilfred Abrahams, minister of home affairs and information, said drones which are faster than crews fanning across the island would assess damage once Beryl passes. 

As per experts, Beryl formed a new eye, or centre, something that usually weakens a storm slightly as it grows larger in area, however it is now back to strengthening. Historic hurricane Beryl strengthened from a tropical depression to a major hurricane in just 42 hours, a feat accomplished only six other times in Atlantic hurricane history, and with Sept. 1 as the earliest date, according to hurricane expert Sam Lillo. It also was the earliest Category 4 Atlantic hurricane on record, besting Hurricane Dennis, which became a Category 4 storm on July 8, 2005.

Beryl amassed its strength from record warm waters that are hotter now than they would be at the peak of hurricane season in September, said hurricane specialist and storm surge expert Michael Lowry. Beryl also marked the farthest east that a hurricane has formed in the tropical Atlantic in June, breaking a record set in 1933, according to Philip Klotzbach, Colorado State University hurricane researcher. 

(with inputs from AP)

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First published on: 02-07-2024 at 09:02 IST