New warnings 2024 hurricane season shaping to be one of the worst

As parts of Texas continued to be battered by Hurricane Beryl having left a trail of devastation in the Caribbean, there are new warnings that it may well herald the start of an intense North Atlantic hurricane season.

The World Meteorological Organisation said Beryl has become the earliest Category 5 Atlantic hurricane on record and sets an “alarming precedent “for what is expected to be a very active hurricane season with risks for the entire basin.

Beryl made landfall in Texas as a Category 1 hurricane this week bringing dangerous storm surge and the risk of flash flooding. It is expected to weaken rapidly after landfall, according to WMO’s Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre Miami, which is operated by the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC).

Beryl hit the southern Windward Islands at Category 4 strength on the Saffir Simpson scale on 1 July. It made a direct hit on Grenada and had major impacts on St Vincent and Grenadines – small islands with little experience in coping with a category 4 hurricane.

At its peak, Beryl was a top-ranked Category 5 on the Saffir Simpson scale. It was at major hurricane intensity while it passes near Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. It then moved towards the East coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

WMO said it has provided regular updates and meteorological advice to the UN and humanitarian system through its WMO Coordination Mechanism.

The United Nations announced it has released $ 4 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to support emergency relief work in the Caribbean.

In addition to the violent winds, Beryl caused massive coastal flooding. Storm surges increased water levels by 6 -9 feet (1.9 – 2.7 meters) above normal tide levels in Jamaica, with rainfall totals of 4 – 8 inches (101 – 202 mm) and locally up to 12 inches (303 mm).

“It takes just one landfalling hurricane to set back years of socio-economic development. For example, Hurricane Maria in 2017 cost Dominica 800% of its Gross Domestic Product. Early warnings by the WMO community and improved disaster risk management have dramatically reduced fatalities, but Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean still suffer disproportionately,” said WMO deputy secretary-general Ko Barrett.

“This is why WMO and its partners have prioritized early warning action in small islands under the international Early Warnings For All initiative,” Barrett added. “We need to be especially vigilant this year due to near-record ocean heat in the region where Atlantic hurricanes form and the shift to La Niña conditions, which together create the conditions for increased storm formulation.”