Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

'Beryl' strengthens, expected to hit Caribbean as hurricane

'Beryl' strengthens, expected to hit Caribbean as hurricane

Tiny Beryl has become the first hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Beryl, a tiny, fast-moving storm, will likely be a hurricane when it reaches Caribbean islands over the weekend hit hard by Hurricane Maria past year.

The system could degenerate into an open trough by the time it reaches the central Caribbean Sea and Hispaniola on Tuesday.

Further strengthening of the storm is likely, and Chris is expected to become a hurricane by mid-week. The island is expected to see minimal tropical storm-force winds, CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said Friday, but it is hard to predict the storm's path beyond the 48-hour period.

Beryl was a compact storm, with hurricane force winds extending out about 10 miles (20 kilometres) from its centre.

Still, "swells generated by the depression are expected to increase and affect portions of the coasts of North Carolina and the mid-Atlantic states this weekend", forecasters said. How these factors come into balance will be crucial in determining how strong Beryl is when it moves through the Lesser Antilles Sunday afternoon into Sunday night. In the Caribbean, a tropical storm warning was up on Guadeloupe and Dominica and long lines were reported at grocery stores on several islands as people shopped for food and water.

Rescuers are combing through mud-covered hillsides and near riverbanks to look for dozens still missing after heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides in southwestern Japan, where the death toll has risen to 122.

With that slight jog north in the track for Beryl, the storm will begin to approach the Lesser Antilles late Sunday, and should be west of the islands by sometime Monday. More than 1,500 power customers remain in the dark more than nine months after Maria, and some 60,000 people still have only tarps for roofs.

"The updated National Hurricane Center intensity forecast most closely follows the statistical-dynamical guidance, which lies at the upper end of the guidance envelope, and brings Beryl to hurricane strength within 36 hours", he wrote.

"We are however still under a tropical storm warning and we need to take it seriously". Gabriel Lojero, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in San Juan, also warned that the storm is expected to dump up to 4 inches of rain and could unleash landslides.

Meanwhile, a tropical disturbance off the North Carolina coast strengthened into a tropical depression Friday afternoon with winds of 30 miles per hour.

As of 5 p.m. ET, the depression had winds of 30 mph and was located about 230 miles east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

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