Hurricane Beryl hits Jamaica with its center crossing the island’s coast

Hurricane Beryl lashed Jamaica with strong winds and brought life-threatening storm surge and waves as the Category 4 storm brushed the island’s southern coast on Wednesday, officials said.

Beryl had maximum sustained winds of 140 mph and caused hurricane conditions in parts of the Caribbean nation of 2.8 million, tropical storm conditions elsewhere, the National Hurricane Center said. said in a 5pm update.

The storm, which made history as the strongest July hurricane ever recorded (before it was downgraded from a Category 5 with 165 mph winds), was blamed for seven deaths as it devastated parts of the Windward Islands and caused flooding and damage. Venezuela.

Jamaican officials have urged residents to take the storm seriously and evacuate. There were no casualties.

“Extremely dangerous conditions are now underway in Jamaica and will continue to be for the next several hours,” National Hurricane Center Director Michael Brennan warned. “Everybody wants to stay in that place for the rest of the day, until tonight.”

Storm surges of 6 to 9 feet above normal are expected as the counter-rotating hurricane pushes water onto Jamaica’s coast, he said.

Meanwhile, in the US, with Beryl’s path uncertain, state officials in Texas have warned people in coastal areas to prepare for the holiday weekend in case tropical weather reaches the US Gulf Coast.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Division of Emergency Management to issue a tornado advisory to the Texas Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday.

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“Government is ready to deploy all available resources and support to our coastal communities,” the governor said.

Drone footage shows waves crashing on the Santo Domingo boardwalk in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday.via @moises.arias06 / Reuters

At least seven people are known to have died as a result of the storm, which destroyed homes and farms on islands across the Caribbean.

The small island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was worst hit, with at least one person dead and more casualties feared. In Grenada, where at least three people have died, Prime Minister Dicken Mitchell said many homes had been destroyed and the storm’s effect was “armageddon-like”. At least three people have died and four others are missing after severe flooding in Venezuela, the country’s President Nicolas Maduro said.

In Barbados, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said the fishing community and coastline had been hit hard. In a video shared on X, huge waves can be seen crashing onto a hotel balcony on Dover Beach.

On Tuesday, Beryl was classified as a Category 5 hurricane by the National Hurricane Center with sustained winds of 165 mph.

Beryl continues to weaken as it moves west through the Caribbean Sea toward the Gulf of Mexico – but it is forecast to remain at or near major hurricane status while the Cayman Islands, like Jamaica, are under a hurricane warning.

The storm is forecast to pass near or over the Cayman Islands on Wednesday night or Thursday night, the National Hurricane Center said.

Although the storm weakened as it approached Jamaica, officials made it clear that it was a major weather event that should not be taken lightly.

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“If you live in a low-lying area, an area historically prone to flooding and landslides, or if you live on the banks of a river … I urge you to evacuate to a shelter or safe ground,” Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said. Video report tuesday

Casey and Warner Haley of Knoxville, Tenn., were married and honeymooning on Saturday when they were told they should be holed up at their Montego Bay resort.

“We had perfect weather yesterday morning. We went snorkeling, we went kayaking, and by the time we got back, the forecast had changed,” Casey, 23, said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The couple said they immediately contacted their travel agent, but no flights were available. They were told the same at the airport.

“It’s really a doomsday-type scenery,” Casey said. “We went to all the flight counters and said, ‘Hey can you take us anywhere, specifically in America, but really anywhere, and they all said, ‘No, we’re all booked’.”

The local grocer was packed, and Casey described it as “an absolute frenzy,” with lines going all the way to the back.

No mandatory evacuations have been ordered at the resort, but a conference room is open for guests to ride out the hurricane.

Workers climb a shop window as Hurricane Beryl approaches Kingston, Jamaica, on Tuesday.Marco Bello/Reuters

Holness said the country’s security forces have plans to stop looting and other opportunistic crimes once the cyclone passes.

Courtney Howell, a fisherman from Kingston, told Reuters the Jamaicans were used for hurricanes.

“Well it’s more dangerous than before. But this one, I mean, I’m not afraid, because I’m used to them, I’ve been through a lot. So this will come now, another experience. ” He said.

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Local residents look at a fallen tree after Hurricane Beryl hit St. James, Barbados.Ricardo Mazalan / AB

By 5 p.m. the hurricane’s center had already passed Kingston, Jamaica, but was about 265 miles east-southeast of Grand Cayman, and the storm was moving west-northwest at 20 mph.

“The Cayman Islands are next in line to see significant impacts,” Hurricane Center Director Brennan said.

Storm surge could raise water levels 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels, and rainfall totals could range from 4 to 6 inches, the hurricane center said.

The storm is forecast to become a hurricane as it crosses the Yucatan Peninsula on Friday, and the agency said it could move into the Gulf of Mexico and threaten Mexico or southern Texas.

Although the storm’s final path in the Gulf of Mexico remains unclear, Texas officials are taking no chances. Texas Emergency Management said anyone living in or visiting coastal areas on the Fourth of July should listen to warnings and have a plan in place in case the weather turns bad.

“While Texans take time off to enjoy the holiday weekend with family and friends, it’s important to be weather aware, pay close attention to rapidly changing forecasts and not be caught without an emergency plan,” said Texas Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd. said in a statement.

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