Impacts may be 'catastrophic' as Hurricane Beryl pounds Jamaica: Live updates (2024)

Editor's note: This page reflects news on Hurricane Beryl from Wednesday, July 3. For the latest news on Hurricane Beryl please follow USA TODAY's live updates on the storm for Thursday, July 4.

Hurricane Beryl was retreating from Jamaica late Wednesday and is expected to pass just south of the Cayman Islands overnight as a major hurricane, bringing intense winds and heavy rain, the National Hurricane Center said.

As of 2 a.m. ET Thursday, Beryl was downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph and was about 110 miles southeast of Grand Cayman — the largest of the Cayman Islands. After roaring by Jamaica's southern coast, the hurricane was expected to unload "devastating hurricane-force winds, life-threatening storm surge, and damaging waves" across the Cayman Islands, according to the hurricane center.

The Cayman Islands could get up to half a foot of rain through Thursday. Weather officials are also warning about life-threatening surf and rip currents along parts of western Cuba, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the coast of Belize.

Beryl was on track to approach the Cayman Islands on Wednesday night and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula about 24 hours later, still as a hurricane but weakened by expected wind shear.

In Jamaica, emergency crews evacuated people living in flood-prone communities and nearly 500 people were in shelters by Wednesday afternoon, according to Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

“We’re concerned about widespread damage and potentially catastrophic impacts in Jamaica,” said Bernie Rayno, AccuWeather's chief on-air meteorologist. "Flooding may last days to even weeks. Widespread power outages are expected. Beryl will likely damage many homes and businesses and cause severe coastal inundation."

The chances of Beryl impacting part of the Texas Gulf Coast have increased with the projected path veering northwest, AccuWeather reported, although it would not bring anywhere near the ferocity of its devastating assault on the southern Windward Islands earlier this week. The current track calls for Beryl to weaken to a tropical storm as it crosses the Yucatan and then becomes a hurricane again before making landfall along the coast near the border of Mexico and Texas.

The storm is projected to drench Jamaica with 4 to 8 inches of rain, and 12 inches are forecast in some places, which could cause "life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides," the NHC said. Holness declared all of Jamaica a "disaster area" and imposed an islandwide curfew Wednesday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On Monday, Beryl made landfall in Grenada's Carriacou island as a Category 4 hurricane, ravaging the southern Caribbean Islands, flattening hundreds of buildings and causing the deaths of at least seven people. On Monday night, Beryl became the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record. Driven by record-hot ocean temperatures, Beryl's rapid strengthening has stunned experts.

Amazing drone footage:As Hurricane Beryl tears through Caribbean, a drone sends back stunning footage

Developments:

∎ The death toll from the powerful hurricane rose to at least 10, according to Reuters. But that figure is expected to increase as communications come back online across islands damaged by flooding and intense winds.

∎ The Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica posted on X that a small section of the roof of its passenger boarding pier was damaged by Beryl. "Once the storm has completely passed, a full assessment of damage will be done," the airport stated on X.

∎ The Meteorological Service of Mexico issued a hurricane warning for the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from Puerto Costa Maya to Cancun, a popular tourist destination, according to the NHC. Tropical storm warnings were also issued for other parts of the Yucatan Peninsula.

∎ Venezuela's vice president, Delcy Rodriguez, and senior officials in her traveling party were injured by a falling tree Tuesday night while surveying an area near the country's Caribbean coast where the Manzanares River overran its banks after heavy rainfall caused by Beryl.

Hurricane Beryl tracker:See projected path of storm

Will Hurricane Beryl hit Texas?

Portions of South Texas are now within theforecast cone of Hurricane Beryl, which meteorologists say could arrive in the state over the weekend or early Monday.

However, forecasters remain unsure of what Beryl will do and how strong it will be as it approaches the Gulf Coast after hitting Mexico: "High uncertainty remains with both the track and intensity of Beryl," theNational Weather Service said Wednesday.

"From Panama City, Florida to New Orleans, there is a low risk of direct impacts from Beryl, but from about Corpus Christi to Brownsville, Texas, the risk increases significantly due to the potential for Beryl to have more direct impacts,"AccuWeathermeteorologist Jonathan Porter said. "That southern portion of the Texas coast is the zone we have to really watch."

Coastal threats could begin this weekend, Weather.com warned: "Well ahead of Beryl, onshore winds could lead to increasing surf, rip currents and coastal flooding along parts of the Gulf Coast from eastern Mexico to Texas and western Louisiana beginning as soon as Saturday, and continuing until just after Beryl's final landfall, Weather.comsaid. The rip current threat could also even extend farther east along the northern Gulf Coast.

Brennan said Tuesday that "folks in the Texas coast, as we go into the holiday weekend, you're going to want to make sure you check back on the forecast and make sure you're ready for any potential impact. If we were to see tropical storm conditions affect those areas in the far western Gulf of Mexico, it could be during the day Saturday."

– Doyle Rice

More than 90% of the homes, buildings destroyed

More than 90% of homes and buildings across at least three islands were destroyed or severely damaged after Beryl tore through the southeast Caribbean, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agencyreported Wednesday. The agency was assisting with the disaster response in Grenada, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines.

Beryl struck the islands with winds of 150 mph and higher gusts on Monday, causing significant impacts to the islands, according to Elizabeth Riley, the disaster management agency's executive director. In addition to infrastructure damages, some islands have also faced power outages and disruptions to communications.

In a briefing late Tuesday, Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell described "total destruction" on the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

"There's really nothing that can prepare you to see this level of destruction," Mitchell said. "It is almost Armageddon-like, almost total damage and destruction of all buildings. Complete devastation and destruction of agriculture. Complete and total destruction of the natural environment."

— Dinah Voyles Pulver

Airlines waive fees for some in Hurricane Beryl's path

Six major U.S. airlines said they're waiving various fees for travelers who have flights booked in Beryl's path. In most cases, flights booked before July 1 are eligible for the changes. The listed flights include departures from or arrivals in airports in Mexico, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Belize.

American, JetBlue, United, Delta, Southwest, and Spirit Airlines are offering a variety of fee waivers because of the hurricane. Passengers are encouraged to check directly with the airlines on what amended policies apply to them.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said on its website travelers on international flights may be able to recover expenses from a delayed or canceled flight by filing a claim with the airline.

"If the claim is denied, you may pursue the matter incourt if you believe that the carrier did not take all measures that could reasonably be required to avoid the damages caused by the delay," the agency said.

− Krystal Nurse

Resort manager in Jamaica maintains composure as Hurricane Beryl approaches

The coming hurricane doesn't scare Tamar Atkinson, the manager of a small resort in Hanover, a community on Jamaica's northwest coast.

"The way I look at it, I can't stop it," she told USA TODAY. "If the hurricane is going to blow your house down, it's going to blow the house down."

Atkinson, 42, who moved back to Hanover a year ago after she lived in the U.S. for 20 years, already has her sea legs in weathering Jamaica's hurricanes. She remembers facing Hurricane Gilbert, a Category 5, as a little girl – the storm blew the roof off her aunt's house, where she sheltered, but left her mother's house in "perfect condition."

When Hurricane Ivan hit two decades ago, Atkinson sheltered at a nearby school.Once again, the storm blew out the school's windows but left Atkinson's house untouched. "I'm not leaving my house, and I'm not going to go crazy like the rest of the people," she said, adding that she's told her guests to "relax their nerves."

Jamaica closes all international airports as Hurricane Beryl nears island

The Jamaica Tourist Board announced Wednesday that the Sangster, Norman Manley, and Ian Fleming international airports were closed as Hurricane Beryl approached the island.

Jamaica's travel website, VisitJamaica.com, doesn't list a reopening time for the airports and encourages travelers to contact their travel agents and/or airlines for flight updates. The website also encourages travelers to heed any instructions from their hotel or private accommodation on sheltering.

"We also encourage you to register with your Embassy for country-specific guidance and support," the board said on the website.

The U.S. Embassy in Jamaica is open on a limited basis and encourages Americans to not visit the embassy for shelter and instead seek a government-run shelter. Citizens in Jamaica are encouraged to call the embassy at (876) 702-6486 if they need assistance.

– Krystal Nurse

Ahead of Hurricane Beryl, Jamaicans prepare their homes

Donae Maye stocked up on water, candles, and food earlier this week, before supermarkets across her hometown of Montego Bay, a city on Jamaica's northern Coast, emptied.

"There was no bread, no essentials that you actually need, no candles, very few tin products," she said on Wednesday, after a recent visit to some local grocery stores.

Maye, 27, also prepped her home, where she will shelter with her fiance, her son and his father. "We cleared away any trees that might be blocking any electrical wires and stuff like that that might fall and break the window," she said.

She's confident that her house, which is made of concrete, will stand up to the storm better than many buildings did to Hurricane Ivan 20 years ago. Back then, more structures were made of board, which didn't fare well in the storm, she said. Today, "most structures are built to withstand the winds and the hurricane," she said.

Humanitarian groups rally relief for impacted countries

Global Giving and Americares are among the humanitarian organizations collecting money for those affected by Hurricane Beryl. Both promise donations to support various impacted communities, focusing on those who are disadvantaged and on decimated medical facilities.

Cora Nally, international emergency response director of Americares, said the organization focuses on restoring damaged medical facilities and expects to deploy its workers to Jamaica soon after Beryl leaves.

"That is really going to serve as a home base for them, and we are asking them to do an assessment of all the impacted islands in the Caribbean, and we are going to be keeping an eye on the storm as it moves towards Mexico and the United States," she said.

Is Cancun in the path of Hurricane Beryl?

Among the parts of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and surrounding areas under hurricane warnings were Cancun and the island of Cozumel, two popular tourist destinations packed with luxury resorts and cruise ship ports.

The hurricane warnings were issued by the Meteorological Service of Mexico as forecasters warned residents and tourists of the projected impact of Hurricane Beryl.

Brennan, the director of the NHC, said in a YouTube livestream on Wednesday that the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, including Cancun, faces 3 to 5 feet of storm surge as well as up to 8 inches of rain.

The record-breaking hurricane is expected to make landfall along the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday night or early Friday, NHC said.

In Jamaica, tourists shelter in hotel ballroom from Hurricane Beryl

Cecilia Garcia and her family initially planned to weather the beginning of the hurricane in the bathroom of their hotel room in Ocho Rios, on Jamaica's northern coastline. "We do have windows in our room, so I think the safest option would probably be to go in our restroom," she said.

Moon Palace Jamaica, where Garcia, 25, is staying with her parents, brother, sister and two kids, told hotel guests to evacuate to a ballroom. When Garcia and her family first visited the shelter, they found it too chaotic. "We ended up back in our room because it was very crowded," she said. "It was very hot in there."

But later on Wednesday morning, as the winds picked up, the family returned to the packed ballroom, where thin cots were arranged in rows, according to a video Garcia shared with USA TODAY.

Garcia and her family's flight back to their home of Houston, Texas, isn't until Saturday – the hurricane will strike at the midpoint of their week-long vacation. Garcia said if they chose to end their stay earlier, they wouldn't get a refund.

Looking out at skies still partially clear on Wednesday morning, Garcia said the family was keeping calm ahead of the storm. "We're kind of used to bad weather and floods like that in Houston," she said. "But again, it's different when you're not at home, so that's the only scary part."

Hurricane Beryl spoiling graduation trip

Mona Parhar, 23, and Arezoo Rafkhani, 24, didn't start searching for early return flights from their vacation to Jamaica until Tuesday night, less than 24 hours before Hurricane Beryl was expected to sweep across the island. By then, they learned airports had closed.

"We really have no choice but to stick it out," Parhar said Wednesday from their hotel room at the Hotel Riu in Montego Bay on the island's northern side.

The two Toronto natives booked their trip to celebrate their recent graduations – Rafkhani from Toronto Metropolitan University and Parhar from York University. "We've never experienced something like this as Canadians," Rafkhani said. "It's kind of nerve-wracking."

The pair were comforted by the hotel staff, who kept guests informed and safe. "Since last night, they've been sending us messages about how to get prepared, what they're doing and will be doing this morning," Rafkhani said. "They've been keeping us calm," Parhar said.

Jamaica braces for Hurricane Beryl

Jamaican officials warned residents to stock up on food, batteries, candles, and drinking water. Residents in flood-prone areas were also advised to prepare for evacuation.

"Secure your critical documents and remove any trees or items that could endanger your property," the Office of the Prime Minister in Jamaica said on X on Tuesday. "Everyone, including those living alone, should take these necessary steps now."

As a precaution, Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness said Tuesday night that electricity and water services will likely be shut off "if the storm reaches a serious threshold" to prevent fires and protect equipment.

"Only one hurricane has ever affected Jamaica during July," according to AccuWeather meteorologist Jesse Ferrell. "Category 4 Hurricane Dennis in 2005 did not make landfall but killed one person and caused a lot of damage."

Record-breaking path:Hurricane Beryl tears through the Caribbean

Hurricane Beryl breaks records

Forecasters have projected 2024 to be one of the busiest hurricane seasons on record. Beryl has already surprised forecasters and broken records since it formed, including becoming the earliest Category 4 or 5 storm on record.

Beryl broke the previous record set by Hurricane Emily on July 17, 2005, for the strongest Category 5 hurricane. Beryl rapidly strengthened from a tropical storm to a major hurricane in about 48 hours.

The storm is also the earliest Category 4 or larger storm by more than a week, breaking the record set by Hurricane Dennis, a Category 4 storm on July 8, 2005.

It was fueled bymuch warmer than normalocean temperatures in the Atlantic and aided in that development by light winds that allowed it to build a strong inner core.

— Jennifer Borresen, Dinah Voyles Pulver and Ramon Padilla

Hurricane Beryl tracker:See projected path of Category 5 storm

Smaller islands hit hard by Beryl

Beryl hit St. Vincent and the Grenadines especially hard, according to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.

"The hurricane has come and gone, and it has left in its wake immense destruction," he said, adding that Union Island had 90% of homes "severely damaged or destroyed."

After making landfall in Grenada's Carriacou Island on Monday, strong winds and high water levels smashed fishing boats in Barbados, downed power lines in Grenada and St. Vincent, and knocked out drinking water in St. Lucia, according to officials.

Grenada's Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell noted on Tuesday that the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique were significantly impacted by the hurricane. In addition to downed power lines, roads remained impassable and fuel stations were destroyed.

"The situation is grim. There is no power. There is almost complete destruction of homes and buildings," Mitchell said.

Contributing: Cheryl McCloud, USA TODAY Network-Florida; Reuters

Impacts may be 'catastrophic' as Hurricane Beryl pounds Jamaica: Live updates (2024)
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