At a Glance
- In less than a day, Beryl went from an area of interest to the first hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.
- This tiny hurricane may strengthen a tad more into Saturday.
- It will eventually encounter increasing wind shear and weaken, but that may not occur until early next week.
- Thus, it’s increasingly possible Beryl may impact the Lesser Antilles as a hurricane.
- Beryl may survive as a tropical cyclone into the central Caribbean early next week.
Hurricane Beryl, while tiny in size, is intensifying in the Atlantic Ocean well east of the Lesser Antilles, and its chances of striking the Antilles as a hurricane early next week are increasing.
This tiny hurricane is currently located over 1,000 miles east-southeast of the Windward Islands, moving west.
Beryl was upgraded to a hurricane based on microwave and infrared satellite imagery showing a “pinhole eye” had developed early Friday morning.
Its tropical storm-force winds extend only up to about 35 miles from its center.
Intensity forecasts with tropical cyclones as tiny as Beryl are notoriously difficult.
Given barely enough ocean heat content (sea-surface temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit), low wind shear, and its location south of a plume of sinking, dry air known as the Saharan air layer, Beryl intensified quickly from a tropical depression at 11 a.m. EDT Thursday to a Category 1 hurricane just 18 hours later.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), these favorable conditions may remain in place the next few days, and Beryl could gain even more intensity.
At some point, upper-level winds are expected to become hostile to Beryl near the Lesser Antilles.
The timing of when that wind shear impacts Beryl will be critical.
If the wind shear kicks in later, Beryl may survive as a hurricane by the time it reaches the Lesser Antilles late Sunday or Monday.
The NHC said hurricane watches may be required for parts of the Lesser Antilles soon.
If the wind shear kicks in earlier, Beryl may weaken sooner, and may sweep into the islands as a weaker storm.
Given Beryl’s tiny size, it’s too soon to determine which islands may see impacts and how strong the impacts will be, but periods of heavy rain, gusty winds and at least some locally choppy seas can be expected, regardless.
There is now the chance Beryl may survive in some form into the central Caribbean Sea early next week, though it is expected to have been weakened to some degree, possibly completely ripped apart, from wind shear by that time.
Those in the Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti should monitor the progress of Beryl. We’ll have the latest updates on weather.com.