Hurricane Beryl, a Category 3 Storm, Smashes Jamaica and Speeds Toward Mexico (2024)

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Judson Jones and Victoria Kim

Judson Jones is a meteorologist and a reporter for The Times.

The storm lashed Jamaica with rainfall and damaging winds. Here’s the latest.

Hurricane Beryl was continuing to thrash Jamaica on Thursday morning with fierce winds and intense rain as it skirted past the island’s coast on its way to the Cayman Islands, charting a course of destruction through the Caribbean while putting countries in its path on edge.

The Category 3 storm, which formed unusually early and quickly in the year, killed at least one woman in Jamaica, knocked out power in hundreds of thousands of households and flooded several communities. But the full extent of the damage might not become clear until the morning. The authorities there warned that the island was not in the clear of the storm’s impact. A curfew was in effect across the country until Thursday morning.

At least seven other people were reported killed in the storm’s sweep through the eastern Caribbean.

Officials in Mexico warned that the country could be hit twice in the coming days. Late Wednesday, the government elevated a tropical storm watch to a warning for parts of the Yucatán Peninsula. A warning indicates that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours.

Here are the key things to know about the storm:

  • Dangerous storm surge: The storm surge may raise water levels by up to nine feet along the coast of Jamaica and up to four feet in the Cayman Islands. Beryl was forecast to remain a dangerous hurricane as it travels just south of the Cayman Islands overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning.

  • A destructive path: Beryl devastated islands in Grenada after making landfall earlier on Monday as a Category 4 hurricane. Three more people died in northern Venezuela, where the storm caused heavy rains and flooding.

  • Devastated islands: Carriacou and Petite Martinique in Grenada were particularly ravaged. Officials said nearly all of the buildings on the islands, where 9,000 to 10,000 people live, had been damaged or destroyed, including Carriacou’s main health facility, its airport and marinas. See satellite imagery of the destruction.

  • Preparations in Mexico: By the weekend, the storm is expected to emerge into the Gulf of Mexico, and it is quite possible it could restrengthen into a hurricane after passing over the Yucatán Peninsula on Friday. It’s expected to make another landfall somewhere along the western Gulf of Mexico on Sunday or Monday, but how strong and the exact path it takes is still uncertain.

  • Unusually early: Beryl is the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record in the Atlantic Ocean, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University who specializes in tropical cyclones. The previous record was set by Hurricane Emily on July 17, 2005, he said. Beryl’s quick escalation was a direct result of the above-average sea surface temperatures as well as a harbinger of what is to come this hurricane season.

July 4, 2024, 1:56 a.m. ET

July 4, 2024, 1:56 a.m. ET

Victoria Kim

Hurricane Beryl has weakened to a Category 3 storm, still with destructive winds of maximum sustained speeds of 125 miles per hour, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its latest update.

July 4, 2024, 2:04 a.m. ET

July 4, 2024, 2:04 a.m. ET

Victoria Kim

The storm is 110 miles southeast of Grand Cayman, the largest of three isles that make up the Cayman Islands, according to the update. Beryl is expected to bring dangerous storm surges of up to four feet above normal tide levels and as much as four inches of rain as it travels past the British territory.

July 4, 2024, 1:32 a.m. ET

July 4, 2024, 1:32 a.m. ET

Jovan Johnson

Reporting from Kingston, Jamaica

Jamaica reports its first death from Beryl.

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Hurricane Beryl has claimed the life of a woman in Jamaica, the first confirmed death there linked to the powerful storm, which has battered the island country’s southern and eastern ends, leaving thousands without power and flooding many communities on Wednesday.

A tree fell on the woman’s house in Hanover Parish, in western Jamaica, said the head of the country’s disaster agency, Richard Thompson.

A rescue team is also searching for a 20-year-old man who was swept away in a gully in Kingston, the capital. The man was taken by floodwaters after he went to retrieve a ball that he and his friends were playing with, according to Michael Phipps, a senior police official.

Emergency teams are going through several communities to clear roads as Hurricane Beryl moves away from the island. Some 80 roads have been affected, officials said. Many houses and businesses have lost their roofs. Police personnel had to flee a flooded station in the hard-hit eastern parish of Portland, and are operating out of a nearby school, The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper has reported.

Recovery efforts are being affected by nightfall and the torrential rainfall and gusty winds that remain. Some areas, however, have had electricity restored.

Jamaicans are already trying to calculate their losses. The St. Elizabeth Parish, known as the “breadbasket” of Jamaica for its key role in supplying crops, has been badly affected.

“We have had some major damage,” said Lenworth Fulton, who heads the largest farming group in Jamaica. “Crops such as yam, coconut, coffee, carrot have been badly affected.”

Jamaica’s transport minister, Daryl Vaz, said a plan was being prepared to show how the main airport, Norman Manley International in Kingston, would operate while the jet bridge roof for boarding and arrivals was being repaired from storm damage.

Source: National Hurricane Center All times on the map are Central time. Map shows probabilities of at least 5 percent. The forecast is for up to five days, with that time span starting up to three hours before the reported time that the storm reaches its latest location. Wind speed probability data is not available north of 60.25 degrees north latitude. By William B. Davis, John Keefe and Bea Malsky

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July 4, 2024, 12:14 a.m. ET

July 4, 2024, 12:14 a.m. ET

Andrés R. Martínez

While Beryl is passing Jamaica after hours of relentless wind and rain, the storm still poses a threat on the island in the form of storm surge. The National Hurricane Center warned that water levels may rise by as much as nine feet above normal tide levels.

Hurricane Beryl, a Category 3 Storm, Smashes Jamaica and Speeds Toward Mexico (7)

July 4, 2024, 12:14 a.m. ET

July 4, 2024, 12:14 a.m. ET

Jovan Johnson

Reporting from Kingston, Jamaica

The authorities on the island appear to be taking that threat seriously. The prime minister’s office just announced a new curfew until 6 a.m. on Thursday.

July 3, 2024, 11:54 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 11:54 p.m. ET

Linda Straker

Reporting from Gouyave, Grenada

Grenada scrambles to set up a field hospital.

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Officials in Grenada were scrambling on Wednesday to set up a field hospital after Hurricane Beryl ravaged nearly all the buildings on the nation’s island of Carriacou, including its lone hospital.

Carriacou’s hospital, Princess Royal, which has 40 beds and was recently retrofitted to withstand severe weather events, was flooded and 75 percent of its roof had been blown away by Beryl, officials said. “This rendered the facility basically unusable,” Dr. Shawn Charles, the Grenada health ministry’s chief medical officer, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Two deaths have been confirmed on Carriacou, which Beryl struck on Monday as a Category 4 hurricane. But with the island still without power, officials said the extent of potential casualties was difficult to assess. Officials said three patients had been taken off the island.

Officials plan to set up a field hospital that the United States donated two years ago to help Grenada deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and natural disasters. Dr. Charles said officials were “working on the logistics of preparing the field hospital for setup.”

Princess Royal was recently upgraded to make it more resistant to damage from storms and other disasters. Dr. Charles said he could not recall how severe a storm the retrofitted facility had been designed to withstand.

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has described the destruction on Carriacou and another Grenada island, Petite Martinique, as “unimaginable” and “total.” On Wednesday, he said Grenada would seek to suspend payments on several of its loan agreements, citing the “catastrophic” storm.

Orlando Mayorquín contributed reporting.

July 3, 2024, 11:19 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 11:19 p.m. ET

Andrés R. Martínez

Hurricane Beryl is moving away from Jamaica as a powerful Category 4 storm, and is expected to pass south of the Cayman Islands overnight, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center. As Jamaica and other islands in the Caribbean asses the extent of the damage of this storm, we are already seeing Mexico and Texas prepare for Beryl.

July 3, 2024, 11:19 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 11:19 p.m. ET

Andrés R. Martínez

The storm has sustained winds of 130 miles per hour and will likely weaken before passing the Cayman Islands. But authorities are warning that it will remain a major hurricane, bringing strong winds, and catastrophic flooding. Beryl is then forecast to strike the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico late Thursday.

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July 3, 2024, 9:13 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 9:13 p.m. ET

Evan Easterling

Cameron County, Texas, along the Gulf of Mexico, issued a voluntary evacuation notice on Wednesday to visitors to three county parks with recreational vehicles and “other high-profile vehicles.” Two parks are on South Padre Island, a popular tourist destination, near the Mexican border.

July 3, 2024, 8:05 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 8:05 p.m. ET

Judson Jones

Meteorologist

Rain and intense winds will continue into the night across Jamaica, but the worst for the country will begin to end in the next few hours as the storm moves west-northwest from the island.

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July 3, 2024, 8:04 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 8:04 p.m. ET

Judson Jones

Meteorologist

Beryl continues to lash Jamaica as the storm’s center is just offshore of the southwestern part of the country. The “extremely dangerous Category 4” hurricane will approach the Cayman Islands later tonight, forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said in their latest update.

Hurricane Beryl, a Category 3 Storm, Smashes Jamaica and Speeds Toward Mexico (14)

July 3, 2024, 7:58 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 7:58 p.m. ET

Jovan Johnson

Reporting from Kingston, Jamaica

Emergency teams are going through several flood-ravaged Jamaican communities to clear roads as Hurricane Beryl moves away from the island. Electricity has also been restored to some areas. Jamaicans are already trying to calculate their losses. Parishes in the country’s southern and eastern ends felt the wrath of the powerful storm.

Hurricane Beryl, a Category 3 Storm, Smashes Jamaica and Speeds Toward Mexico (15)

July 3, 2024, 7:59 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 7:59 p.m. ET

Jovan Johnson

Reporting from Kingston, Jamaica

“We have had some major damage,” Lenworth Fulton, a farmer who heads the largest farming group in the country, said in an interview. “Crops such as yam, coconut, coffee, carrot have been badly affected.”

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Hurricane Beryl, a Category 3 Storm, Smashes Jamaica and Speeds Toward Mexico (16)

July 3, 2024, 6:40 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 6:40 p.m. ET

Daphne Ewing-Chow

Reporting from George Town, Cayman Islands

Here in George Town, we just finished putting shutters on every single window and door. I’ve never felt more claustrophobic in my life — the house is so dark. We live on the water and have glass doors, so we had to go all out. Other than that, it isn’t raining, but it’s incredibly humid and the wind is blowing really, really hard.

July 3, 2024, 6:25 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 6:25 p.m. ET

Alyce McFadden and Nate Schweber

An anxious Caribbean community in New York monitors Beryl’s path.

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Relief efforts were underway in New York City’s Caribbean community on Wednesday as residents monitored Hurricane Beryl’s path with anxiety and sorrow.

At least seven people have been killed by the storm in the Southeast Caribbean, with thousands left without power. By Wednesday afternoon, Beryl had weakened from a Category 5 to a Category 4 hurricane as it passed just south of Jamaica, lashing the island with damaging winds and flooding rainfall.

In the Little Caribbean neighborhood of Brooklyn, people with family and friends in Jamaica closely watched the storm’s progress.

Nadine Ducille, a cook at Caribbean Vibes Jamaican Restaurant and Bakery on Nostrand Avenue, said that she had been calling family members every couple of hours.

“My family so far is OK, they’re prepared,” Ms. Ducille, 50, said. “They’re just waiting to see what’s going on.”

Down the street at Mozeal Botanica, a shop selling religious figurines and candles, Grace Clark, an employee there, said she had urged her children in Portland Parish, Jamaica, to fill their storage tanks with plenty of clean water and to keep their cellphones fully charged, in case of loss of power.

“I get down on my knee and pray for covenants over the people,” Ms. Clark, 50, said.

Eugene Pursoo, the president of the nonprofit group Caribbean Diaspora United, was born in Grenada, an island nation devastated by the storm this week. A relative of his brother’s wife died, he said, when the hurricane prevented him from flying to the United States, where he was set to undergo an urgent medical operation.

Mr. Pursoo, who previously served as Grenada’s representative to the United Nations, said he feared the long-term consequences that Beryl’s winds and rains would bring to the nation’s crops and economy.

“It’s sad because we are dealing with fragile economies, and whenever we suffer this kind of devastation, normally we don’t have the money,” Mr. Pursoo said. “I know how families live on the edge when those things happen.”

He lived through one such disaster himself: Hurricane Janet, which devastated Grenada when he was a child in 1955, destroying houses and wiping out crops. Climate change has made severe weather events more common in the region, according to experts, and Mr. Pursoo said America’s Caribbean community knew how to respond.

“The thing I like about the Caribbean and our people, is that when you have something like that strike, we close ranks,” he said.

Leonie Ward, a secretary at Lenox Road Baptist Church in Little Caribbean, said Beryl had called to mind major storms from the 1980s and early 2000s.

“I can’t say we’re accustomed to this, but we have had Hurricane Gilbert and Ivan,” she said. “Because of the magnitude of it, we understand what can happen.”

Dr. Trevor Dixon, founder of the JAHJAH Foundation, a nonprofit that provides medical personnel after emergencies in Jamaica, was born on the island and traveled there to provide medical assistance after Hurricane Ivan in 2004. He said his father called him at the time, pleading for help.

On Wednesday, Dr. Dixon said he was “exhausted and anxious,” monitoring Beryl after a night shift at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, where he works.

“I worked last night, but I’m still here, ready to go,” Dr. Dixon said. “Can’t sleep much because you’re on edge.”

He expected to fly to Jamaica early next week with several other volunteers. Dr. Dixon said standing water could cause major health problems in the wake of the storm, by providing a breeding ground for mosquitoes and leading to contaminated drinking water.

As soon as he woke up Wednesday morning, Mr. Pursoo said he began reaching out to leaders in New York’s Caribbean community to start organizing a relief effort. His biggest hurdle, he said, was finding a meeting space large enough to accommodate the 400 or 500 people he expected to turn up.

“We are a people who have always responded to the needs of our families and friends back home,” Mr. Pursoo said. “Whenever natural disasters strike, we are quite responsive to give from whatever we can.”

July 3, 2024, 5:32 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 5:32 p.m. ET

Judson Jones

Meteorologist

The forecast for what Beryl might do this weekend was becoming clearer Wednesday afternoon, but forecasters warned that landfall in Texas couldn’t be ruled out yet. The more probable scenario is that Beryl will weaken over the Yucatan to start the weekend, emerge over the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday and slightly restrengthen before landfall on Mexico’s east coast Sunday.

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Hurricane Beryl, a Category 3 Storm, Smashes Jamaica and Speeds Toward Mexico (20)

July 3, 2024, 5:26 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 5:26 p.m. ET

Jovan Johnson

Reporting from Kingston, Jamaica

Hurricane Beryl has damaged the roof of Jamaica’s main airport, the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. The damage is at the passenger pier where jet bridges are connected, the local airport authority told The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper. The airport closed on Tuesday night.

July 3, 2024, 5:20 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 5:20 p.m. ET

Judson Jones

Meteorologist

Beryl may have slightly restrengthened. In the past hour, the eye of the storm started to appear on satellite again, which is one sign it could be gaining in intensity. Forecasters said they would know if it was stronger when the next hurricane hunter plane could fly through, so they kept the wind speed at 140 miles per hour in the last update.

July 3, 2024, 5:15 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 5:15 p.m. ET

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega

Reporting from Mexico City

Beryl could hit Mexico twice in the coming days, Laura Velázquez Alzúa, the country’s national coordinator of civil protection, said Wednesday. The storm might arrive in the southern state of Quintana Roo between Thursday and Friday, cross the Gulf of Mexico this weekend and make a second entry on Sunday or Monday somewhere around Tamaulipas or northern Veracruz.

The government of Quintana Roo has set up 120 emergency shelters across the state. Mexico has also deployed some 2,500 soldiers and marines, as well as more than 2,200 electricians to the region in preparation for Beryl.

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July 3, 2024, 4:55 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 4:55 p.m. ET

Judson Jones

Meteorologist

Beryl’s eyewall, the most dangerous part of the Category 4 hurricane, is brushing the southern coast of Jamaica, forecasters said in the latest update.

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Hurricane Beryl, a Category 3 Storm, Smashes Jamaica and Speeds Toward Mexico (24)

July 3, 2024, 4:39 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 4:39 p.m. ET

Jovan Johnson

Reporting from Kingston, Jamaica

Nearly 500 Jamaicans have taken refuge in shelters across the island, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said on social media. The country is being pounded. Several houses and business places have lost their roofs to the gusty winds of Beryl.

July 3, 2024, 4:33 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 4:33 p.m. ET

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega

Reporting from Mexico City

Jamaica’s meteorological service said that battering waves and dangerous storm surges, which are rising water levels by as much as six to nine feet, will continue to particularly affect southern areas of the island. The country’s disaster agency warned of fallen trees, debris and utility poles blocking several roads.

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July 3, 2024, 4:13 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 4:13 p.m. ET

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega

Reporting from Mexico City

The rest of Vincy Mas, the annual summer carnival of St. Vincent and the Grenadines that started on June 28 and was set to end on July 9, is now up in the air after Hurricane Beryl severely damaged or destroyed about 90 percent of the houses on Union Island.

“Having visited Union Island and seen the devastation, the furthest thing from my mind is a carnival,” Carlos James, the country’s minister of tourism and culture, told the local news media.

July 3, 2024, 3:51 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 3:51 p.m. ET

Judson Jones

Meteorologist

The center of Beryl is likely to stay just off the southern coast of Jamaica, but it will still bring damaging storm surge and hurricane-force winds onto the Island. If the center does come ashore, it would be only the third hurricane in the past 40 years to make landfall on the island. The previous two were Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 24, 2012, and Gilbert on Sept. 12, 1988.

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July 3, 2024, 3:46 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 3:46 p.m. ET

Edgar Sandoval

Reporting from San Antonio

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said that he has directed state agencies to be ready to respond in case Hurricane Beryl affects coastal communities. State emergency officials are closely monitoring the storm’s path, Mr. Abbott said in a news release. “State and local officials will continue to work around-the-clock to monitor statewide weather conditions and help protect Texans,” he said.

Hurricane Beryl, a Category 3 Storm, Smashes Jamaica and Speeds Toward Mexico (29)

July 3, 2024, 3:44 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 3:44 p.m. ET

Jovan Johnson

Reporting from Kingston, Jamaica

Jamaica’s disaster agency has reported dozens of flooded and blocked roadways, fallen trees and landslides as Hurricane Beryl lashed the island. Thousands of Jamaicans could spend the night in darkness after the main power provider paused efforts to restore electricity. “We are on standby to start power restoration as soon as it is safe to do so,” Jamaica Public Service said Wednesday afternoon. The blackout covers significant chunks of the capital Kingston and several other parishes.

July 3, 2024, 3:30 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 3:30 p.m. ET

Ceylan Yeğinsu

Cruise lines alter itineraries as they monitor Beryl.

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Cruise ships in the Caribbean are shifting their itineraries to avoid the path of Hurricane Beryl.

Carnival Cruise Line has altered the course of two of its ships — Horizon and Liberty — that were sailing in the region on Wednesday. Carnival Horizon is canceling its call in the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico, on July 4 and will visit Nassau in the Bahamas instead. Carnival Liberty also canceled its stop in Cozumel that was scheduled for July 5.

“The safety of our guests and crew is paramount, and we are continuing to monitor forecasts and factor in guidance from the National Hurricane Center, U.S. Coast Guard, and the local port authorities to provide timely updates to our guests as more information becomes available,” Carnival said in a statement on Tuesday. The changes come during the increasingly busy summer season, which is popular for family breaks despite the higher risk of storms and rain.

Several Royal Caribbean ships have also made changes to their itineraries, including the world’s largest ship, Icon of the Seas, which stopped at Cozumel instead of Philipsburg, St. Maarten, on July 1 and visited Costa Maya, Mexico, instead of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, on July 3.

Norwegian Cruise Lines is modifying two sailings on board the Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Jade, canceling stops in Falmouth, Jamaica, and Roatán Bay Islands, Honduras.

All cruise lines in the region are actively monitoring hurricane forecasts and will continue to make changes as necessary.

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July 3, 2024, 3:00 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 3:00 p.m. ET

Eve Sampson

Here’s how to help the hurricane victims in the Caribbean.

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Hurricane Beryl tore through the eastern Caribbean islands this week, killing at least seven people and obliterating infrastructure and buildings across the region.

As the powerful storm headed toward Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, aid groups were mobilizing to help those who have already been affected, including on Grenada’s tiny islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. About 6,000 people there have lost electricity, and most of the buildings and homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Here is information about how to help.

Do your research.

Fraudsters thrive in times of natural disaster.

They know that when images of devastation are circulating and emotions are running high, people are more likely to donate money to causes.

The Federal Communications Commission urges donors to be wary of scams. One way to do that is to make sure you are donating to reputable organizations by verifying a group’s contact information and double-checking any information provided on social media.

Many groups involved in disaster relief are trustworthy, and have been extensively vetted by organizations like Charity Navigator, GuideStar and others. The Internal Revenue Service also has tools to check a group’s legal charitable status.

Monetary gifts are often more helpful than donations of goods and supplies, since the money can be rerouted to serve different purposes as needs change.

The Federal Trade Commission advises donors to follow a list of best practices, including verifying the charity’s legal status, before giving money. Here is a list of its recommendations.

These organizations are helping.

World Central Kitchen is mobilizing to provide food to those hit by the hurricane. A team is already in nearby St. Vincent and the Grenadines preparing sandwiches for those in need.

Direct Relief is a United States-based nonprofit that said it had been in communication with the St. Vincent and Grenadines health ministries to assess medical needs and prepare supplies for distribution. The organization said it had already sent emergency medical packs to St. Lucia for health responders.

Fauna & Flora is an international environmental nonprofit that is raising funds on behalf of a Caribbean partner, the Union Island Environmental Alliance, which has worked to protect the island’s diverse ecosystem and preserve the critically endangered Union Island gecko.

CARE, the international humanitarian organization, is focused on alleviating poverty and hunger by centering on women and girls. The nonprofit said it was partnering with the Caribbean Gender Alliance to evaluate community needs and offer assistance.

The World Food Program is an arm of the United Nations that provides emergency assistance and hunger relief. The organization said it has staff in Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to help with recovery.

Hurricane Beryl, a Category 3 Storm, Smashes Jamaica and Speeds Toward Mexico (32)

July 3, 2024, 2:44 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 2:44 p.m. ET

Jovan Johnson

Reporting from Kingston, Jamaica

Here in Kingston, the winds are frighteningly noisy. Heavy showers are battering the concrete slab roof of my home, and the once-rolling green hills are all covered in white clouds.Those distant hills and mountainous regions usually make for an uplifting view from my living room, particularly at sunset and sunrise. They’re now lost in Beryl’s mist. It’s just after midday, but the grey skies over Kingston and St. Andrew seem to be ushering in an early night. Oh, and the power just went.

July 3, 2024, 2:15 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 2:15 p.m. ET

Derek M. Norman

Jamaican airports are shut down, stranding travelers and snarling plans.

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All three of Jamaica’s international airports closed late Tuesday as Hurricane Beryl churned toward the island, leaving some travelers stranded and others scrambling to adjust their plans.

Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Norman Manley International Airport in Port Royal (near the capital, Kingston) and Ian Fleming International Airport in Boscobel — which together serve approximately 1.7 million visitors each year — will remain closed at least through Wednesday, according to Jamaica’s tourism board.

“All necessary precautions are being taken to ensure a swift and safe resumption of operations once the hurricane has passed,” MBJ Airports, which operates Sangster International, the country’s largest and most popular hub for tourists, said in a statement.

Travelers staying on the island should remain in the safety of their accommodations or evacuation point, the tourism board said, adding that, if possible, they should register with their home country’s embassy to receive specific guidance and support.

For travelers whose plans had them arriving in Jamaica during the closures, some airlines are offering to rebook flights for a different date, free of charge.

American Airlines, for example, is working to reschedule flights to numerous places in the storm’s path, including several Caribbean islands, Belize and Mexican destinations like Tulum, Cancún, Cozumel and Mérida through July 5.

JetBlue Airways said it would waive change or cancellation fees, as well as the cost of fare differences, for customers scheduled to travel to affected Caribbean destinations between July 1 and July 5.

And Southwest Airlines is allowing customers with flights to Montego Bay between July 1 and July 4 to reschedule without any additional charges.

Other tourist destinations potentially in the hurricane’s path are also shutting down airports.

Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman and Charles Kirkconnell International Airport on Cayman Brac will both close on Wednesday, according to the Cayman Islands Airports Authority.

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July 3, 2024, 2:00 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 2:00 p.m. ET

Judson Jones

Meteorologist

The strongest and most damaging winds of Beryl will likely occur along the southern coast and mountainous areas of Jamaica.

July 3, 2024, 1:51 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 1:51 p.m. ET

Judson Jones

Meteorologist

Hurricane conditions are imminent in Jamaica as the eye of Beryl approaches the coast, the National Hurricane Center warned in its latest update. The storm is still a Category 4 hurricane with 140 miles per hour winds.

July 3, 2024, 1:33 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 1:33 p.m. ET

Daphne Ewing-Chow

Reporting from George Town, Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands prepare for Hurricane Beryl.

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Preparations were underway for the arrival of Hurricane Beryl in the Cayman Islands, where the storm was expected to move through Wednesday night.

More than 1,000 people were evacuated, George Town officials said, as two dozen additional flights were added to help with the evacuations off the islands, where 5,000 tourists were believed to be staying.

For those staying put, officials opened more than a dozen shelters and local rotary clubs, while distributing sandbags ahead of an evening curfew. Officials said electricity would remain on “as long as possible.”

Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, appearing on Radio Cayman on Wednesday, strongly urged residents to stay in place beginning at 6 p.m. until an all-clear was issued.

“Let us remain calm, stay prepared, look after one another as we face this challenge together,” she said. “We can minimize the impact of Hurricane Beryl and protect our community if we do it together.”

There was a mixture of a familiar fear and uncertainty among some residents ahead of the storm.

Maddy Harrop, 27, originally from Manchester, England, and now living in Camana Bay on Grand Cayman, was experiencing her first ever hurricane and was offering shelter to those whose homes might be vulnerable to damage or floods. She was checking on her supply of batteries and filling up buckets of water on Wednesday.

“The community here is incredibly resilient and supportive, which has been comforting during such a challenging time,” she said. “It’s a stark reminder of nature’s power and the importance of preparedness and community solidarity.”

Tracey Rose, 60, who lived through Hurricane Ivan in 2004, was no stranger to preparing for big storms. Ms. Rose owns Cayman Riding School in Savannah on Grand Cayman and was working to ensure the safety of her animals — 36 horses, goats, donkeys and other livestock.

But that came with the difficult decision of letting her horses run loose. Ms. Rose said she anticipated the storm would blow off the stable roofs and setting them free would give them a better chance of survival.

Ms. Rose’s animals were not her only concern. Many of her staff members are from Jamaica and were worried about family back home.

“I have to stay strong and remain positive for everyone around me, although inside my stomach is churning,” she said.

Shuvra Deb, 42, a U.K.-born Indian motivational speaker and attorney who has lived in the Cayman Islands for the past four and a half years, said the lead-up to Hurricane Beryl reminded her of her experience with Hurricane Irma in the British Virgin Islands in 2017.

“I have that same sense of foreboding that I had before Irma,” she said, adding, “I didn’t know what to expect, whereas now, I know exactly how bad it could be.”

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July 3, 2024, 1:09 p.m. ET

July 3, 2024, 1:09 p.m. ET

Austyn Gaffney

NOAA planes fly through Hurricane Beryl to improve forecasts.

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Hurricane Beryl, a Category 3 Storm, Smashes Jamaica and Speeds Toward Mexico (38)

Hurricane Beryl, which devastated islands in Grenada on Tuesday and is now heading toward Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, has broken records as the earliest hurricane ever to reach Category 4 and Category 5 intensity in the Atlantic Basin. Wind speeds of at least 160 miles per hour were recorded on Monday.

“There are so many superlatives to describe Hurricane Beryl given the time of year, the location and the strength,” said Jonathan Zawislak, a meteorologist and flight director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Dr. Zawislak is a hurricane hunter, the title held by about 30 to 40 scientists, data crunchers and pilots based in Lakeland, Fla., who fly into hurricanes on three airplanes nicknamed Gonzo, Kermit and Miss Piggy. Both Kermit and Miss Piggy are equipped with Doppler radar on their bellies and tails that scientists use to create 3-D images of the storm.

Over the last three days, Dr. Zawislak and his team have taken off in Kermit from St. Croix, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and navigated through the swirling eyewall of Hurricane Beryl. In a Category 4 or 5 storm like Beryl, the eyewall — the ring of thunderstorms, heavy rain and dangerous winds surrounding the center of the storm — is loud and bumpy.

“It’s like being on a roller coaster in a carwash, except you don’t know when the ups and downs will occur, or what the next turn is,” Dr. Zawislak said on Tuesday as he prepared for his third Beryl reconnaissance flight.

But the eye of the storm is calm. During daytime flights, Dr. Zawislak can look out his bubble window from behind the co*ckpit and see a quiet bowl of cloud with clear, blue sky above.

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His job is to navigate through the chaos, finding the path for Kermit to fly between 8,000 to 10,000 feet while maintaining an airspeed of exactly 210 knots and flying the aircraft directly into the wind so they’re not pushed around.

Jonathan Shannon, a spokesman for NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center, said the goal of these flights, especially with hurricanes that change quickly, was to provide better data to better prepare for emergencies.

Since Dr. Zawislak’s first flight on Sunday, Hurricane Beryl experienced rapid intensification, which means its wind speeds have increased by 35 miles per hour or more over a 24-hour period. Part of the change came from an eyewall replacement cycle, or what Dr. Zawislak called the “ice skater effect”: the storm contracts like a figure skater pulling arms in tight while spinning. Pulling energy from warm ocean water, the storm replaces the old eye with a new one and reorganizes its outer wall.

As Earth’s atmosphere heats up, more storms are undergoing this kind of rapid intensification. A recent study showed that rapid intensification is now twice as likely for Atlantic hurricanes, at least partially because of human-caused climate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels.

Beryl is a disastrous start to what Hosmay Lopez, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, said was the “most bullish” forecast the agency has ever made for an Atlantic hurricane season. NOAA predicts an above-normal hurricane season with four to seven major storms clocking winds above 111 miles per hour.

The forecast is based on the change in the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, a natural climate pattern linked to warmer conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which is moving from a neutral state toward La Niña. The calm conditions produced by La Niña, combined with abnormally warm ocean temperatures, increase the likelihood of Atlantic hurricane formation.

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Hurricane Beryl, a Category 3 Storm, Smashes Jamaica and Speeds Toward Mexico (39)

As they travel, hurricanes stir the surface of the ocean. They churn up colder water from deep below the surface, which can dilute the storm’s energy, like stirring a cup of coffee to cool it down. But along with exceptionally warm sea surface temperatures that have shattered records for more than a year, temperatures are also higher than normal at greater depths.

“In this case the cup of coffee is very tall, so it’s very difficult to mix up cold water from below, even though you have strong winds,” Dr. Lopez said. Warmer temperatures at a greater depth give the storm even more energy to pull from the ocean, he said.

Hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30, has historically been quiet in June and July before picking up in August. Hurricane Beryl beat the previous record-holder for earliest Category 5 storm, Hurricane Emily in 2005, by about two weeks.

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Hurricane Beryl, a Category 3 Storm, Smashes Jamaica and Speeds Toward Mexico (2024)
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