Hurricane Beryl
3 July 2024news

Beryl continues rampage in Caribbean

Hurricane Beryl roared through open waters this morning as a powerful Category 4 storm heading towards Jamaica after earlier crossing islands in the southeast Caribbean, killing at least six people.

The Associated Press reported that a hurricane warning was in effect for Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. Beryl was losing intensity but was forecast to still be near major-hurricane strength when it passes near or over Jamaica early today, near the Cayman Islands tomorrow and into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A hurricane watch was in effect for Haiti’s southern coast and theYucatan’s east coast. Belize issued a tropical storm watch stretching south from its border with Mexico to Belize City. However, investment manager Twelve Capital, which specialises in insurance-linked securities, said Beryl was not expected to have a material effect on catastrophe bonds.

“Despite its elevated strength, Hurricane Beryl’s path across the Caribbean islands, and potentially Yucatán, is not expected to generate significant losses for Cat Bond investors,” it said. It noted one Jamaica cat bond could see part or all of its principal eroded if Beryl made landfall in Jamaica while a Mexican cat bond could be at risk if the storm continued on its projected track and hit the Yucatan.

Late Monday, Beryl became the earliest storm to develop into a Category5 hurricane in the Atlantic and peaked at winds of 165 mph yesterdaybefore weakening to a still-destructive Category 4. Early today, the stormwas about 250 miles (400 kilometers) east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. It had top winds of 145 mph (230 kph) and was moving west-northwest at 22 mph (35 kph), the centre said.

Beryl was expected to bring life-threatening winds and storm surge toJamaica, where officials warned residents in flood-prone areas to prepare for evacuation. “I am encouraging all Jamaicans to take the hurricane as a serious threat,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in a public address yesterday. “It is, however, not a time to panic.”

In Miami, National Hurricane Center Director Michael Brennan saidJamaica appears to be in the direct path of Beryl.“We are most concerned about Jamaica, where we are expecting the core of a major hurricane to pass near or over the island,” he said in an online briefing. “You want to be in a safe place where you can ride out the storm by nightfall (Tuesday). Be prepared to stay in that location through Wednesday.”

Storm surge of 6-9 feet (1.8 to 2.7 meters) above typical tide levels are likely in Jamaica, as well as heavy rainfall.

“This is a big hazard in the Caribbean, especially with the mountainous islands,” Brennan said. “This could cause life threatening flash floods and mudslides in some of these areas.”

As the storm barrelled through the Caribbean Sea, rescue crews in southeastern islands fanned out to determine the extent of the damage

Beryl inflicted on Carriacou, an island in Grenada. Three people were reported killed in Grenada and Carriacou and another in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, officials said. Two other deaths were reported in northern Venezuela, where five people are missing, officials said. Some 25,000 people in that area also were affected by heavy rainfall from Beryl.

One fatality in Grenada occurred after a tree fell on a house, Kerryne James, the environment minister, told The Associated Press.

She said Carriacou and Petit Martinique sustained the greatest damage,with scores of homes and businesses flattened in Carriacou.“The situation is grim,” Grenadian Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell told a news conference yesterday. “There is no power, and there is almost complete destruction of homes and buildings on the island. The roads are not passable, and in many instances they are cut off because of the large quantity of debris strewn all over the streets.”

Mitchell added: “The possibility that there may be more fatalities remains a grim reality as movement is still highly restricted.” Meanwhile, Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, promised to rebuild the archipelago in a statement early Tuesday. He noted that 90% of homes on Union Island were destroyed, and that “similar levels of devastation” were expected on the islands of Myreau and Canouan.

The last strong hurricane to hit the southeast Caribbean was Hurricane Ivan 20 years ago, which killed dozens of people in Grenada. One of the homes that Beryl damaged belongs to the parents of UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, who is from Carriacou.

The storm also destroyed the home of his late grandmother. In a statement, Stiell said that the climate crisis is worsening, faster than expected.“Whether in my homeland of Carriacou … hammered by Hurricane Beryl, or in the heatwaves and floods crippling communities in some of the world’s largest economies, it’s clear that the climate crisis is pushing disasters to record-breaking new levels of destruction,” he said.

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