Hours after making landfall on Grenada’s Carriacou Island, Hurricane Beryl strengthened to a “potentially catastrophic” Category 5 storm late Monday as it moved west in the Caribbean on a path forecast to take it near Jamaica, officials said.

Beryl had maximum sustained winds of about 160 mph at 11 p.m., the National Hurricane Center said. The increase in maximum sustained winds from 155 mph to 160 mph late Monday put the storm in Category 5 status, which is 157 mph or above.

In an update at 2 a.m. ET, the NHC said the storm was “still intensifying.”


Some changes in strength are likely, but it is still expected to be at “major hurricane” status by the time it passes Jamaica on Wednesday, the hurricane center said. A “major hurricane” is Category 3 or higher.

“I am encouraging all Jamaicans to take the hurricane as a serious threat,” Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness warned.

Jamaica upgraded its advisory to a hurricane warning, up from a watch, and Holness urged people to seek higher, safer ground. He also warned that emergency services would not be able to operate during the peak of hurricane conditions.

A hurricane watch was issued Tuesday morning for the Cayman’s Islands.

The hurricane was a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds when its eye made landfall on Carriacou, part of Grenada and the Windward Islands, at 11:10 a.m. Monday, the hurricane center said.

One person was reported to have died in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said. He said more details were not known.

“There may well be more fatalities. We are not yet sure,” he said. He added that hundreds of homes on St. Vincent were severely damaged or destroyed.Officials in Grenada said there is believed to be widespread damage, although there have been problems with communication in the wake of the damaging storm.

The southern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti were under tropical storm warnings Monday night.

Beryl is the first Category 4 hurricane on record to form in June. It is also the earliest Category 4 storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, beating the record of Hurricane Dennis, which formed on July 8, 2005.



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