Hurricane Beryl is a disturbing sign of the times  -

Hurricane Beryl is a disturbing sign of the times 

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features Hurricane Beryl, which exceeded all expectations for an Atlantic storm developing in June. 

Even in a world increasingly shaped by extreme weather events, Hurricane Beryl stands out as a historic storm. 

Beryl smashed countless records, including the earliest Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic, as a result of unusually warm water. 

The arrival of Beryl

NASA noted that the first Atlantic hurricane of 2024 unleashed dangerous winds and life-threatening storm surges, primarily targeted towards the Caribbean’s Grenadine Islands.

Early in July, Beryl tore into Carriacou Island as a powerful Category 4 storm. “On the morning of July 1, Hurricane Beryl made landfall on Carriacou Island as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles (240 kilometers) per hour,” said NASA.

The VIIRS image

The true scale of Beryl’s intensity was revealed with an image captured by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard the NOAA-21 satellite. 

This image, taken at 12:50 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time on June 30, showed Beryl when the eye of the storm was about 300 miles (490 kilometers) southeast of Barbados.

Beryl’s rapid intensification

Hurricane Beryl wasn’t just a record-breaker for its early arrival. This storm exhibited exceptionally rapid intensification. 

Beryl started as a tropical depression in the central tropical Atlantic on June 28 and transformed into a tropical storm the very next day. It wasn’t long before the National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm to a Category 4 hurricane.  

“The storm rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to a powerful Category 4 in less than 24 hours. ‘Rapid intensification’ occurs when wind speeds increase by at least 35 miles (56 kilometers) per hour, over 24 hours,” said NASA.

This was striking because, according to the National Hurricane Center, atmospheric conditions in late June are typically unfavorable for storm intensification in this part of the Atlantic.

Furthermore, the experts pointed out that very few storms have formed this far east so early in the hurricane season.

The legacy of Beryl

By the time Beryl reached the Mexican coast, it had struck various parts of the Caribbean with deadly ferocity. The storm had its first encounter with land in the southeastern Caribbean, significantly impacting islands like Barbados, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint Lucia.

The aftermath was a scene of chaos and destruction. Heavy rains, savage winds, dangerous storm surges prompted evacuations and widespread preparations. 

The storm continued its deadly march, heading towards Jamaica as a Category 4 hurricane, causing significant disruptions, including flight cancellations and the closure of major airports. Beryl then turned its attention to the Cayman Islands, before eventually making landfall on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

A sign of the times

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that Beryl is expected to rapidly weaken to a tropical storm as it crosses over the Yucatan Peninsula. There is, however, a chance that the storm could gain strength in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Beryl serves as a reminder of the unpredictable consequences of climate change and the increasing prevalence of extreme weather events. As ocean temperatures rise, experts warn that this unprecedented storm event is a sign of what’s to come. 

Hiroyuki Murakami is a research scientist at Noaa’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. “Although it is uncertain to what extent climate change contributed to the early formation of Hurricane Beryl, our climate models suggest that the mean intensity of hurricanes will increase in the future due to enhanced global warming.”

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 


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