Tropical Storm Beryl now forecast to become a major hurricane

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Tropical Storm Beryl now forecast to become a major hurricane

Tropical Storm Beryl chugged toward the southeast Caribbean on Saturday as forecasters warned it was expected to strengthen into a dangerous major hurricane before reaching Barbados late Sunday.

A major hurricane is considered a Category 3 or higher, with winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph). Hurricane watches were in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while a tropical storm watch was issued for Martinique and Tobago.

“It’s astonishing to see a forecast for a major (Category 3+) hurricane in June anywhere in the Atlantic, let alone this far east in the deep tropics. #Beryl organizing in a hurry over the warmest waters ever recorded for late June,” Florida-based hurricane expert Michael Lowry posted on X.

Beryl’s center is forecast to pass about 26 miles (45 kilometers) south of Barbados, said Sabu Best, director of the island’s meteorological service’s director

On Saturday, Beryl was located about 820 miles (1,320 kilometers) east-southeast of Barbados, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph). It was moving west at 23 mph (37 kph).

“Rapid strengthening is now forecast,” the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

Warm waters are fueling Beryl, with ocean heat content in the deep Atlantic the highest on record for this time of year, according to Brian McNoldy, University of Miami tropical meteorology researcher.

Beryl is the strongest June tropical storm on record that far east in the tropical Atlantic, noted Philip Klotzbach, Colorado State University hurricane researcher.

“We need to be ready,” Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley said in a public address late Friday. “You and I know when these things happen, it is better to plan for the worst and pray for the best.”

She noted that thousands of people are in Barbados for the Twenty20 World Cup cricket final, with India and South Africa playing in the capital, Bridgetown, on Saturday.