This is the earliest we’ve ever seen a Cat 4 hurricane—and the season’s just getting started

hurricane beryl

Hurricane Beryl is setting new records for tropical storms—and that has people living in the Southeast and along the East Coast nervously anticipating the months to come.

Beryl is now a Category 4 storm, becoming the earliest Atlantic hurricane on record to reach that level this early in the season. It took just 42 hours for the storm to transform from a tropical depression to a major hurricane.

It’s on a path right now to impact the Caribbean, including the southern-facing side of the Dominican Republic and much of Jamaica. The storm’s current path does not project it impacting the U.S.

Sustained winds, as of 10:00 a.m. ET Monday, were peaking at 130 mph. Forecasters are warning people in the path of the storm to watch out for a life-threatening storm surge of up to 9 feet, with 3 to 6 inches of rain predicted for Barbados and as much as 10 inches in some areas.

“Beryl is nearing the southern Windward Islands and expected to make landfall within the next hour or two,” the National Hurricane Center wrote in its most recent update. “This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation. Take action now to protect your life!”

Meanwhile, a third tropical depression, Chris, has formed in the Gulf of Mexico. That storm will impact eastern Mexico and perhaps cause mudslides, but is not expected to be a significant storm.

The respite could be a short one, though. Forecasters have warned of a ”potentially explosive” hurricane season. Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science says 2024 could see 11 total hurricanes, including five “major” hurricanes (category 3 to 5), and 23 named storms, compared with an average of 14.4 between 1990 and 2020.

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