Hurricane Beryl churning toward Mexico with strong winds, heavy rain (2024)

Thao Nguyen,Dinah Voyles Pulver,Doyle Rice,N'dea Yancey-BraggUSA TODAY

Beryl maintained major hurricane strength Thursday as it whipped past the Cayman Islands and toward Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It left a path of destruction in Jamaica with damaging winds and heavy rainfall, with at least 11 dead across the region.

The center of Beryl is moving across the northwestern Caribbean Sea Thursday afternoon and is expected to bring "strong winds, dangerous storm surge and damaging waves" to the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula early Friday, according to a 2 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center. Beryl was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane Thursday and had winds of 110 mph at about 135 miles west of Grand Cayman – the largest of the Cayman Islands.

Beryl is expected to dump up to half a foot of rain on the Cayman Islands Thursday and up to 10 inches in areas of the Yucatan Peninsula, which could lead to flash flooding.

Storm surge could raise water levels as much as 3 to 5 feet on the Yucatan's east coast and by as much as 1 to 3 feet above ground level along its west coast, bringing "large and destructive waves."

Weather officials warned Beryl is expected to bring life-threatening surf and rip currents along the coast of Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands. The currents could spread to the Yucatan Peninsula and parts of Central America later Thursday and then to eastern Mexico and much of the U.S. Gulf Coast by late Friday.

As hurricane conditions died down in the Cayman Islands, winds are expected to reach tropical storm strength in the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday, making it difficult to be outside amid dangerous conditions expected later in the day, the hurricane center said.

The hurricane center discontinued hurricane warnings for the Cayman Islands, but warnings remain in place for the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from Puerto Costa Maya to Cancun, including Cozumel. A tropical storm watch is also in effect for a large portion of the coast of Belize.

Officials confirmed that at least nine people were killed in Grenada, Venezuela, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Reuters reported. Jamaica’s prime minister Andrew Holness told CNN Thursday that two deaths have been registered in the country due to Hurricane Beryl.

Drone footage: As Hurricane Beryl tears through Caribbean, a drone sends back stunning footage

Developments:

∎The death toll from Beryl rose to at least 11 on Thursday. But officials said deaths are expected to climb as communications come back online across islands that have been damaged by flooding and intense winds.

∎Nerissa Gittens-McMillan, permanent secretary at St. Vincent and the Grenadines' agriculture ministry, warned of possible food shortages after 50% of plantain and banana crops were lost in the storm.

∎Forecasters warned of strong rip currents along much of the Gulf Coast through the weekend. Surf conditions will likely become dangerous on the south coast of Texas.

As Beryl approaches Mexico, the Tulum International Airport, officially known as Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport or Aeropuerto Internacional de Tulum, will close from 2 p.m. Thursday until noon on Sunday, according to the airport's website.

Will Hurricane Beryl hit Texas?

Portions of South Texas are nowwithin theforecast cone of Hurricane Beryl, which meteorologists say could arrive in the state over the weekend or early Monday.

But forecasters remain unsure what Beryl will do and how strong it will be when it approaches the Gulf Coast after hitting Mexico: "High uncertainty remains with both the track and intensity of Beryl," theNational Weather Service said Wednesday.

"From Panama City, Florida to New Orleans, there is a low risk of direct impacts from Beryl, but from about Corpus Christi to Brownsville, Texas, the risk increases significantly due to the potential for Beryl to have more direct impacts," AccuWeather meteorologist Jonathan Porter said. "That southern portion of the Texas coast is the zone we have to really watch."

Coastal threats could begin this weekend, according to Weather.com: "Well ahead of Beryl, onshore winds could lead to increasing surf, rip currents and coastal flooding along parts of the Gulf Coast from eastern Mexico to Texas and western Louisiana beginning as soon as Saturday, and continuing until just after Beryl's final landfall." The rip current threat could extend further east along the northern Gulf Coast.

Brennan said Tuesday, "Folks in the Texas coast, as we go into the holiday weekend, you're going to want to make sure you check back on the forecast and make sure you're ready for any potential impact. If we were to see tropical storm conditions affect those areas in the far western Gulf of Mexico, it could be during the day Saturday."

Governor Greg Abbott has directed the state'semergency management agencies to prepare for hurricane response and recovery efforts. As Beryl's path shifted toward South Texas, officials in Corpus Christi and Brownsville began distributing sandbags to residents and the Port of Brownsville limited ship traffic.

"As Texans around the south coastal areas make holiday plans and visitors begin to travel for the holiday weekend, I urge them to take necessary safety precautions, remain weather aware, and have an emergency plan ready for themselves and their families," Abbott said in a statement.

Hurricane Beryl tracker: Storm's path toward Jamaica, the Cayman Islands

Hurricane Beryl threatens the Yucatan Peninsula

Beryl was forecast to weaken gradually over the next two days; however, it is still expected to be at or near hurricane intensity when it heads toward the Yucatan Peninsula by late Thursday.

A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning remained in effect for parts of the Yucatan Peninsula's coast. Mexico's government upgraded its tropical storm watch to a tropical storm warning from Progreso to Campeche, the hurricane center said.

The hurricane center warned that Beryl should make landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula as early as Thursday night. In addition to heavy rain and wind, forecasters said dangerous storm surge flooding will threaten coastal areas.

"Widespread power outages and flash flooding are anticipated in the region," according to AccuWeather.

Jamaica faces 'catastrophic' impact of Hurricane Beryl

There were widespread power outages across Jamaica after Beryl brushed the island's southern coast on Wednesday. The hurricane thrashed Jamaica as a Category 4 storm, bringing destructive winds and rain.

Beryl pummeled communities as emergency workers evacuated people from flood-prone areas.

"It's terrible. Everything's gone. I'm in my house and scared," said Amoy Wellington, a 51-year-old cashier who lives in Top Hill, a rural farming community in southern St. Elizabeth Parish. "It's a disaster."

At least one person was killed in Jamaica's Hanover Parish after a tree fell on her home, according to Richard Thompson, acting director general at Jamaica's disaster agency. Nearly a thousand residents were in shelters by Wednesday evening, Thompson said.

Emergency crews had evacuated people from flood-prone areas and airports were closed after Holness, the country's prime minister, issued an islandwide curfew Wednesday.

“We’re concerned about widespread damage and potentially catastrophic impacts in Jamaica,” said Bernie Rayno, AccuWeather's chief on-air meteorologist. "Flooding may last days to even weeks. Widespread power outages are expected. Beryl will likely damage many homes and businesses and cause severe coastal inundation."

Some Caribbean islands report significant damages after Beryl

At least three islands report more than 90% of the homes and buildings either destroyed or severely damaged, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agencyreported Wednesday. All three are within the chain of Grenadine Islands, where Beryl roared into the Caribbean on the southern end of the Windwards, between St. Vincent and Grenada.

With19 participating states across the Caribbean, the agency was helping coordinate disaster response in Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines even as it continued to track Beryl’s movements across Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Belize.

The damage estimates for the Windwards – where Beryl made landfall over the island of Carriacou – are only "a very preliminary look," said Elizabeth Riley, the disaster management agency's executive director. Beryl struck the islands with sustained winds of 150 mph and higher gusts on Monday, and the National Hurricane Center had warned that winds could be up to 30% higher on the tops of hills and mountains.

The impacts on the Grenadine Islands are "quite significant," Riley said, leaving residents exposed and vulnerable. Even as recovery efforts began, a tropical wave brought rain and gusty winds Wednesday to the suffering residents.

Contributing: Reuters

Hurricane Beryl churning toward Mexico with strong winds, heavy rain (2024)
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