Hurricane Beryl heads toward Jamaica as a record-breaking Category 5 storm after leaving Caribbean islands in ruins



CNN

Hurricane Beryl, now a potential hurricane Catastrophic Category 5 StormA U.S. warship has set its sights on the coast of Jamaica after a tornado killed at least one person and devastated entire islands in the Caribbean on Monday.

Storm Beryl is heading away from the Windward Islands with winds of 165 mph after destroying dozens of homes in Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, many of which remain without power or water. By Wednesday afternoon, the storm is expected to hit Jamaica with life-threatening winds and high tides.

The storm continues to break records as the hurricane season gets off to an exceptionally early start — now the oldest Category 5 hurricane on record and only the second Atlantic storm of that strength to be recorded in July.

Hurricane Beryl took just minutes to hit Grenada on Monday, destroying buildings and cutting off power and phone service to almost all of the island’s residents, the governor’s office said.

“In half an hour, Carriacou was flattened,” Grenada Prime Minister Deacon Mitchell said Monday.

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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said a path of “enormous devastation, pain and suffering” had torn through St. Vincent and the neighboring Grenadines, where at least one person was reported dead. Power was cut to parts of the islands, including hospitals, and water was cut to others.

Gonsalves said about 90 percent of homes on the country’s Union Island were damaged or destroyed. Hundreds of other homes and several schools, churches and government buildings in St. Vincent were also badly damaged.

“Tomorrow we wake up with our commitment and conviction to rebuild our lives and the lives of our families,” Gonçalves said Monday evening.

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Although Beryl is likely to weaken in the coming days, it is expected to remain an “extremely dangerous major hurricane” — a Category 3 or stronger — through mid-week, according to the hurricane center.

The hurricane will continue to bring strong winds, heavy rains and large waves extending beyond its center over much of the Caribbean. Even if Beryl does not make landfall in Jamaica, its outward extension will have significant impacts.

•Beryl attacks Hispaniola on Tuesday: As Hurricane Beryl approaches the Caribbean on Tuesday, Hispaniola will be hit by its strong winds and rain. Tides up to 3 feet and 2 to 6 inches of rain are possible.

•Jamaica braces for severe impacts: A hurricane warning has been issued for Jamaica, where government officials have activated national disaster response protocols. The dangerous storm surge could raise water levels by as much as 3 to 5 feet above normal tide levels across the island. Rainfall of 4 to 8 inches is also expected on Wednesday, with localized amounts of up to 12 inches, which could cause flash flooding.

Grenada extends state of emergency: Grenada’s state of emergency has been extended until July 7 due to the extensive damage caused by the storm, said Neyla K. Etienne, a spokeswoman for the prime minister’s office. About 95 percent of Grenada has lost power, she said. Communications services have also been cut off and some people have lost internet service.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines rushes to restore power: Local authorities are “working with enthusiasm, speed and great focus to provide electricity to certain places tonight,” Prime Minister Gonçalves said on Monday. Several trees have fallen on power lines. However, government buildings will reopen on Tuesday and the prime minister urged businesses to open their doors, if possible.

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Damaged fishing boats rest on the beach after Hurricane Beryl passed through Bridgetown Fish Market, Bridgetown, Barbados on July 1.

A major blow to the fishing industry in Barbados: Although Barbados escaped the brunt of the storm, the massive storm surge damaged several fishing vessels — a devastating loss for the country’s fishing industry. Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said Monday that at least 20 vessels had sunk. Residents of the fishing complex watched helplessly as violent waves crashed into boats or dragged them underwater, CNN affiliate CBC reported. “There’s nothing else we can do but stand and watch the devastation — our livelihoods being lost,” one resident told CBC.

Tropical Storm Warnings: Tropical Storm Warnings remain in effect for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Punta Palenque west to the border with Haiti and across the southern coast of Haiti to Anse de Haino. Tropical storm force winds are expected to begin in Haiti and the Dominican Republic Tuesday evening.

Cricket team and fans stuck: Some cricket fans who had travelled to Barbados for the Cricket World Cup – and even the victorious Indian team itself – were unable to leave the island as Hurricane Beryl forced Grantley Adams International Airport to suspend operations. But Motley said the Indian team was likely to return home on Tuesday after the airport’s planned reopening.

Beryl’s rapid strengthening and early arrival are extremely rare in the Atlantic hurricane season, and a worrying sign that this season will be far from normal as global warming from human-caused climate change continues.

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The storm has already broken several records. On Sunday, it became the first major hurricane — defined as a Category 3 or higher — in the Atlantic in 58 years and the only one to reach Category 4 strength in the month of June.

It is also the strongest known hurricane to pass through the southern Windward Islands, which lie on the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data dating back to 1851.

The hurricane was able to come back to life because the ocean is now warm, as it usually is at the height of hurricane season, said Jim Kossin, a hurricane expert and science adviser to the nonprofit First Street Foundation.

“Hurricanes don’t know what month it is, they just know their environment,” Kossin told CNN. “Beryl is breaking June records because she thinks it’s September.”

The ocean heat that powers Brill’s unprecedented power “definitely has a human imprint on it,” Kossin added.

Meteorologists have warned that this year’s hurricane season is set to be unusually active. Meteorologists expect This season is expected to see between 17 and 25 named storms, 13 of which will become hurricanes.

CNN’s Abel Alvarado, Brandon Miller, Sahar Akbarzai, Mary Gilbert, Hira Humayun, Robert Shackelford and Isaac Yee. Duarte Mendonca and Manvina Sori contributed to this report.

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