BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday July 6, 2018 – Less than 24 hours after starting as a tropical depression, Beryl this morning became the first hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.
And the tiny but quickly strengthening Category 1 Beryl is forecast to remain a hurricane as it approaches the Lesser Antilles. While no watches or warnings are yet in effect, forecasters say hurricane watches could be needed for some of the islands by tonight.
“Beryl is expected to still be a hurricane when it moves through the Lesser Antilles Sunday night or Monday, and the chance of some islands receiving direct impacts from wind and rainfall are increasing,” the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said.
“However, Beryl is a very small hurricane, and it is too early to determine exactly where those impacts will occur. Hurricane watches could be needed for portions of the Lesser Antilles as soon as tonight.”
At 11 a.m., the NHC said a “brazen” Beryl had maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour.
It was located about 1,045 miles east southeast of the Lesser Antilles and moving towards the west at 15 miles per hour.
A faster westward to west-northwestward motion is expected to begin over the weekend and continue through early next week, and on that track, the centre of Beryl will approach the Lesser Antilles over the weekend and cross the island chain late Sunday or Monday.
“Weakening is expected once Beryl reaches the eastern Caribbean Sea on Monday, but the system may not degenerate into an open trough until it reaches the vicinity of Hispaniola and the central Caribbean Sea,” the NHC said.
Meteorologists say Beryl is a compact hurricane, with hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 10 miles from the centre, and tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 35 miles.
Meantime, showers and thunderstorms associated with a well-defined but still weak low pressure system located a few hundred miles southeast of the North Carolina coast are gradually becoming better organized, although surface pressures in the area remain high, the NHC said.
Environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for additional development of this system, and a tropical depression is likely to form over the next couple of days while it moves slowly northwestward and stalls or meanders near the coast of North Carolina over the weekend.