Major hurricane bears down on Caribbean islands

Hurricane Beryl Caribbean
By Linsey McNeill
01/07/2024
Home » Major hurricane bears down on Caribbean islands

The first hurricane of the 2024 season is heading towards Barbados and the Windward Islands, including St Lucia and Grenada.

Hurricane Beryl is expected to bring destructive winds and a life-threatening storm surge, said the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Hurricane warnings are in effect for Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadine Islands, and Grenada, with the latter three most at risk, according to the NHC.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Martinique and Tobago, and a tropical storm watch is in effect for Dominica.

The Foreign Office has issued travel warnings for Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Trindad and Tobago.

“Devastating wind damage is expected where the eyewall of Beryl moves through portions of the Windward Islands,” the NHC said. “A life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels by as much as five to seven feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore flow near where Beryl makes landfall in the hurricane warning and watch areas.”

The NHC said it expects Beryl to become a ‘major’ hurricane, bringing sustained winds of up to 90mph by the time it reaches Barbados and the Windward Islands. It will continue to be a ‘powerful’ hurricane as it moves into the eastern and central Caribbean early next week, it added.

Barbados airport closed at 7pm last night and in St Lucia a national shutdown has been in effect since 8.30pm on Sunday and will remain in place until the all clear is given.

The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority said: “During this time, please remain indoors and away from glass windows once tropical hurricane- force winds affect the area. All persons should avoid entering the ocean. Failure to comply with this request puts human lives at risk, including those of our first responders. 

“Your accommodation provider has contact information for the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority and will reach out to us as needed. Please be assured that the island’s emergency management agency has been working diligently to ensure the safety of everyone in our destination. 

“When the All Clear is given, please contact your airlines and ferry services for updated travel schedules and potential changes. 

“The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority will continue to provide updates related to Hurricane Beryl as new information becomes available.”

Meanwhile a tropical storm warning is in place on the Mexico coast between Veracruz and Tampico. The Foreign Office said: “There is a risk of heavy rains and flooding across eastern Mexico, as well as of landslides in higher terrain. Follow the guidance of local authorities.”

How is Hurricane Beryl affecting flights?

A British Airways flight from Barbados managed to take off yesterday, shortly before the airport was closed, forcing the cancellation of Virgin Atlantic’s later flights between the UK and Barbados and between Barbados and St Vincent.

Last night’s scheduled Virgin Atlantic flight from Barbados is due to leave today at 17:15, although the airport is currently still closed.

In a statement, Virgin said: “We are contacting affected customers regarding their travel arrangements. We’d like to thank them for their patience and understanding and recommend that all customers due to travel to or from Barbados airport over the next 48 hours check the status of their flight on virginatlantic.com before going to the airport. 

“The safety and comfort of our customers and people is always our top priority.”

How is Hurricane Beryl affecting cruises?

Cruise lines are also expected to change some Caribbean itineraries to avoid the storm. Royal Caribbean has already switched course for Icon of the Seas, which has amended its 29 June cruise to visit Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico instead of St Maarten and St Thomas, and Celebrity has reversed the ports of call for Beyond’s sailing from Florida to Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba.

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