1 Jul 2024

Hurricane Beryl – where’s it going and how bad will it be?

Major Hurricane Beryl

Hurricane Beryl rapidly formed over the western side of the Atlantic Ocean at the weekend and is now a major hurricane which will sweep westwards through the Caribbean this week. As well as intensifying quickly, it has also become the earliest category 4 hurricane on record, in the calendar year, in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm has not only had ideal atmospheric conditions, but also record-warm sea surface temperatures which provide fuel for the storm to thrive.

Windward Islands first to be hit

The Windward Islands are the first part of the Caribbean to feel the impacts of the Hurricane Beryl, with hurricane and tropical storm warnings from the National Hurricane Center covering the island chain.

Hurricane Beryl passed to the south of Barbados early on Monday morning (AST local time) and is expected to affect St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada next. It is here where there’s the highest risk of the core of the hurricane – where the strongest winds are – directly hitting.

Sustained winds around the core of the storm, the eye wall, are expected to be around 130mph, with even stronger gusts.

Impacts of Hurricane Beryl

As with all hurricanes, there will be a variety of extreme weather that will face the islands hit by Beryl. Category 4 strength winds could cause catastrophic damage, with destruction of well-built frame homes – ripping of roofs and even bringing down exterior walls.

Heavy rain is also expected, with 100-150mm (4-6 inches) expected widely, and as much as 200-300mm (8-12 inches) in the worst affected locations. Such a large amount of rain falling will bring flash flooding, as well as the possibility of landslides.


Another big danger for the islands is a significant storm surge of 1.8 to 2.7 metres (6-9 feet). This is where powerful winds push sea water inland well above normal tides, bringing the chance of homes and land being inundated with water.

Where is the storm heading next?

After hitting the Windwards Islands on Monday, Hurricane Beryl will drift westwards across the Caribbean Sea over the next few days. Atmospheric conditions are likely to be less favourable for the hurricane by midweek, causing it to weaken slightly. Nevertheless, it will remain strong enough to cause damage and destruction to those who lie in its path.

The latest forecast track for the storm takes it just south of Jamaica on Wednesday, before approaching the Yucatan Peninsula on Friday. However, it is worth emphasising that confidence in the track of the storm becomes more uncertain the further ahead in time you go. Therefore, the prediction will inevitably be tweaked in the coming days, and the National Hurricane Center is the official source for updates.

Climate change and hurricanes

Hurricanes are complex systems that require several atmospheric and oceanic conditions to come together to form, thrive and survive. However, it can’t be ignored that sea surface temperatures in the western Atlantic are at record or near-record warm levels. Given that these warm waters act as an energy source, they will have played a notable role in Hurricane Beryl’s rapid intensification and status as the earliest category 4 storm on record in the Atlantic Ocean.

Tweets by @liamdutton