Tropical Storm Beryl forms into the Caribbean as a Category 2 hurricane

Tropical Storm Beryl formed in the Atlantic on Friday evening and will bring strong winds, rough surf and heavy rain to the Lesser Antilles, a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea, early next week. The National Hurricane Center is predicting hurricane impacts there, and steady strengthening, perhaps rapid, through the weekend.

Beryl is located a little more than 1,100 miles east-southeast of the Windward Islands and is moving westward. Conditions favor steady strengthening of the system, and rapid intensification cannot be ruled out. Those around the Caribbean should keep an eye on the storm’s progress through the middle of next week.

Meanwhile, there are two other bottlenecks in the Atlantic, each with a 30 percent odds of eventual growth. One is a strong tropical wave rolling off the coast of Africa, the other is in the western Caribbean and will soon drench the Yucatan Peninsula with heavy rain.

It’s only June, but the Atlantic shows mature growth in the main growth area, or the imaginary box of oceanic real estate between South America and Africa in the tropical Atlantic. It is most common in late July or August. Experts are calling for this hurricane season to be particularly busy or brisk due to unusually warm sea-surface temperatures and upper-level winds linked to a developing La Niña pattern.

As of 11pm ET on Friday, Beryl was located 1,110 miles east-southeast of Barbados. It was moving west at 18 mph. Maximum sustained winds are listed at 40 mph.

Tropical storm or hurricane watches may be required for parts of the Windward Islands and the Lesser Antilles as early as Saturday morning.

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The National Hurricane Center wrote, “Storm Beryl was one of only a handful of storms in history to form over the central or eastern tropical Atlantic earlier this year.”

The system has strong convection or rain and thunderstorm activity. Activity in these thunderstorms is developing to the west of the low center, but Beryl is likely to become more symmetrical and vertically aligned over the next day or so.

It also has a healthy exhaust or cool air exhaust at the upper levels. It was evident as thin, wispy cirrus clouds drifted out from the center. It shows the storm breathing—inhaling warm, moist air from below and expelling “spent” air from above. This is a sign of well-organized chaos.

A high-pressure dome over the mid-Atlantic can act as a sort of force field, suppressing the system to the south and preventing it from “rebounding” or escaping north. As the maximum rotates clockwise, the initial storm will continue almost westward. It will lead towards the Lesser Antilles by Monday.

Strong upper-level winds can tear apart a developing system, but Beryl’s southern track escapes most of the hostile upper-level winds blowing north.

Beryl lies south of the Sahara air layer—a blanket of hot, dry desert air and dust a mile or two above the ground. That dry air can erode a developing storm’s circulation, but that won’t happen here.

By Monday, the storm will strengthen and become a hurricane as it extracts energy from the warm waters of the tropical Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center predicts sustained winds of 90 to 105 mph in the center of the storm. It affects the Windward or Leeward Islands. A typical 3 to 6 inches of rain is also expected.

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After that, Beryl will continue in the Caribbean. It is not clear whether Beryl will reduce strength by Tuesday or Wednesday. However, people in Jamaica, Cuba and Hispaniola should keep a close eye on the storm’s progress.

There are two other disturbances worth noting in the Atlantic. One in the northwestern Caribbean is organizing some, but it may lose that structure as it moves inland over the Yucatan Peninsula over the next 48 hours. After that, we can try to get some strength in the Bay of Campeche early next week. Extreme northern Belize and Guatemala and Yucatan will receive 4 to 8 inches of rain, with heavy rain and flooding possible.

Otherwise, another tropical wave is poised to form over Africa during its long trek across the Atlantic.

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