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Hurricane Beryl, passing Jamaica, now threatens Cayman Islands

Jamaica was assessing damage from the storm, which now moves toward the Cayman Islands and the Yucatan Peninsula at Category 4 strength.
Posted at 7:31 AM, Jul 03, 2024

Hurricane Beryl moved past Jamaica on Wednesday night as a Category 4 storm, headed further through the Caribbean.

As of Wednesday night, the National Hurricane Center said Beryl had top sustained winds of 130 mph, down from its peak intensity of 165 mph on Tuesday. The National Hurricane Center said the storm was about 160 miles southeast of Grand Cayman.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm is expected to continue west toward the Yucatan Peninsula.

Officials in Mexico issued a hurricane warning for the coast from Puerto Costa Maya to Cancun ahead of the storm's anticipated arrival on Thursday.

A tropical storm warning was in effect from Cabo Catoche to Progresso in the Yucatan Peninsula. A hurricane warning was in effect for Cozumel.

"Beryl is expected to emerge over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico Friday night and turn northwestward," forecasters said.

The National Hurricane Center said because of the unpredictability of the storm's track at this point, southern Texas should closely monitor the storm.

Forecasters said there is still considerable uncertainty over Beryl's intensity and track in the coming days. Wind shear is expected to cause Beryl to weaken, but not all computerized forecast models agree on how much of a factor wind shear will be.

A map forecasting the path of Hurricane Beryl as of Wednesday, July 3.
A map forecasting the path of Hurricane Beryl as of Wednesday, July 3.

Forecasters are confident that Beryl will have significant and potentially life-threatening impacts to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Mexico in the coming days.

"Devastating hurricane-force winds, life-threatening storm surge, and damaging waves are expected in portions of Jamaica beginning this afternoon and in the Cayman Islands early on Thursday," the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday. "Residents in these areas should listen to local government and emergency management officials for preparedness and/or evacuation orders."

The storm could dump up to 12 inches of rain in some localized areas as it moves across Jamaica, likely causing flash flooding and mudslides, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm surge could raise water levels 6 to 9 feet above normal tide.

Areas of the Cayman Islands could see storm surges of as much as 2 to 4 feet above normal. Portions of the Yucatan could experience storm surges of 4 to 6 feet.

4 to 6 inches of rain could fall in the Cayman Islands, which forecasters say is expected to lead to life-threatening mudslides and flooding.

As much as 8 inches of rain could fall in parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, where flash flooding is expected.

Jamaica issues Wednesday curfew

Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared a disaster for Jamaica and implemented a nationwide curfew effective from 6 a.m. through 6 p.m. Wednesday.

"This is to ensure the safety of everyone during the passage of the storm and to prevent any movement with the intent to carry out criminal activity," the prime minister said.

The government issued evacuation orders for low-lying areas.

Power was out in much of the capital of Kingston and in some northern communities on Wednesday night. Trees and downed power lines were blocking some roads.

Deadly destruction in the Windward Islands

Officials said at least seven people have been killed since Hurricane Beryl made landfall in Barbados and the Windward Islands on Monday. During a news conference on Tuesday, Grenadian Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said the situation was grim and more fatalities are expected to be discovered.

Mitchell said the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique suffered the greatest damage, stating there was "almost complete destruction" of homes and buildings.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said 90% of homes and buildings on Union Island were destroyed, and that “similar levels of devastation” were expected on the islands of Myreau and Canouan.