Hurricane Beryl eyes Jamaica as 'life-threatening' Category 4 storm; see latest track

Hurricane Beryl continues to thrash the Caribbean as a rare Category 4 hurricane with estimated winds of 150 mph on Tuesday afternoon – the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, and the earliest Category 5 storm to form in the Atlantic according to the National Hurricane Center. 

On Tuesday, Hurricane Beryl downgraded to a Category 4 with estimated sustained winds of 150 mph (Monday night, Beryl had winds of 160 mph, making it a ‘potentially catastrophic’ Category 5 hurricane).

According to the NHC's 8 p.m. update, Hurricane Beryl is located about 360 miles east-southeast of Jamaica's capital city, Kingston, and moving west-northwest at 22 mph.

The massive storm is expected to move across the southeastern and central Caribbean on Tuesday before passing near or over Jamaica on Wednesday, the Cayman Islands on Wednesday night or early Thursday, and the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico later Thursday night, forecasters said. 

Beryl is expected to weaken slightly over the next day or two, but should still have "major hurricane" status when it passes Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. A major hurricane is a storm that's at least a Category 3, which means it has sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

When the hurricane passes Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, it's expected to bring life-threatening winds and storm surge on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, the NHC said. 

Hurricane Beryl track: See latest forecaste path toward Jamaica, Mexico

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What is a Category 5 hurricane? Understanding the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

Hurricanes are rated using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which is a 1-5 scale using the estimated sustained winds within a hurricane.

Here are the measurements to know:

  • Tropical storm: Maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph
  • Category 1 hurricane: Maximum sustained winds of 74-95 mph
  • Category 2 hurricane: Maximum sustained winds of 96-110 mph
  • Category 3 hurricane: Maximum sustained winds of 111-129 mph
  • Category 4 hurricane: Maximum sustained winds of 130-156 mph
  • Category 5 hurricane: Maximum sustained winds of 157 or higher

The Saffir-Simpson model only takes into account estimated wind speeds. It does not account for storm surge, rainfall, flooding, or tornadoes.

A historic hurricane. Here's why:

  • The first Category 4 hurricane ever in June
  • The earliest Category 4 hurricane on record and the farthest east June hurricane ever in the tropical Atlantic Ocean
  • The strongest storm in the Caribbean since Maria in 2017
  • Second-strongest hurricane to make landfall anywhere in the Windward Islands (Maria, 2017, made landfall over Dominica as Category 5 hurricane on Sept. 18)