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Latest Hurricane Beryl updates, forecast after passing Jamaica

Hurricane Beryl swept by Jamaica on Wednesday, unleashing flooding rains, damaging winds and a significant ocean surge that inundated coastal areas. The powerful storm came within a few miles of landfall as the storm’s ring of destructive winds scraped along the southern portion of the island.

Now the storm — pulling away from the Cayman Islands — is on a collision course with Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, poised to strike there early Friday. Then, northeastern Mexico and South Texas will probably be the storm’s final destination Sunday into Monday.

The National Hurricane Center said Thursday evening that hurricane-force winds, dangerous storm surge and damaging waves were expected to begin overnight as the storm approaches the Yucatán Peninsula.

As Beryl charged past Jamaica as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday, flooding swept the eastern end of the island, and many residents had evacuated their homes. Government offices were shuttered, along with the country’s three international airports, and public transit services were paused. In Kingston, winds gusted to 81 mph and roof damage was reported at Norman Manley International Airport. At least two deaths have been reported in the nation, though one body has not been recovered after being “swept out to sea,” according to the prime minister.

Punishing wind and rain downed power lines, scattered debris and made roads impassible as the storm blew past the island. Roughly 65 percent of Jamaica Public Service Co. customers — about 400,000 households — were left without power as of Thursday, the BBC reported.

St. Elizabeth, one of Jamaica’s largest parishes, faced some of the storm’s harshest impacts, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said on social media. Holness visited the parish Thursday afternoon.

Agriculture Minister Floyd Green wrote that damage in the parish included “significant numbers of roofs being lost, houses destroyed, trees uprooted, light poles downed, almost all roads are impassable.”

By midday Thursday, Jamaica’s National Works Agency and private contractors were busy clearing roads as airports and government offices began to reopen.

As of 11 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, the storm was about 135 miles southeast of Tulum, Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center. Beryl’s maximum sustained winds were estimated to have strengthened to 115 mph, returning it to Category 3 status, up from a Category 2 hurricane earlier Thursday. It was previously a Category 3 on the same day; a Category 4 on Wednesday; and a Category 5 as recently as Tuesday morning.

Early Thursday, Beryl’s eyewall — the ring of destructive winds around the storm center — could be seen on Grand Cayman’s weather radar passing 25 miles south of the island. That means Grand Cayman was probably experiencing high-end tropical storm-force winds, but Beryl’s stronger hurricane-force winds probably remained offshore.

Thereafter, Beryl will barrel west-northwest over the Bay of Campeche as it emerges in the southwest Gulf of Mexico. Beryl is expected to slowly re-intensify as it moves over the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center. Tamaulipas, Mexico, a state just south of the Texas border, is at the greatest risk of seeing a direct landfall, but there is also a chance that the storm comes ashore in South Texas.

Beryl should come ashore south of Cancún on Friday with gusts around 100 mph and a storm surge — or rise in water above normally dry land near the coast — of up to 3 to 5 feet; hurricane warnings are in effect from Puerto Costa Maya to Cancún, including Cozumel. A widespread 4 to 6 inches of rain, with localized amounts up to 10 inches, is also anticipated. That is expected to cause scattered flooding.

Beryl will then enter the Gulf of Mexico, where a period of restrengthening is possible. Even after weakening to a tropical storm because of its passage over land, Beryl will probably regain status as a Category 1 hurricane.

Then it will curve north a bit — but how much is the question. Two factors are influencing its path.

A dome of high pressure over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico is shunting it west. That may prove dominant as a steering driver, which could win out and steer a weaker system into Tamaulipas over the weekend.

There’s a chance, however, that a dip in the jet stream over the Central States enacts a bit of a tug northward. That could pull the system into the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, potentially threatening South Texas. The angle at which Beryl curves northward is key — a more gentle curve would take it into Mexico, but a more abrupt northward turn would spell greater risks for the Lone Star State.

There is still a very real possibility of a Texas landfall somewhere in the vicinity of Brownsville,…

Read More: Latest Hurricane Beryl updates, forecast after passing Jamaica

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