The path of the relatively tiny Tropical Storm Beryl is currently tracking westwards through the Atlantic in the general direction of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It is expected to reach the Lesser Antilles by Sunday night or Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHS).
Tropical storms are less severe than hurricanes, with wind gusts between 39 and 73 miles per hour; a hurricane, by contrast, includes maximum sustained wind gusts between 74 and 95 miles per hour, according to AccuWeather. Though Beryl is not forecast to be at hurricane strength when it reaches the Lesser Antilles, the NHS said some islands can expect “direct impacts from wind and rainfall.”
The NHC is also warning that changes to Beryl’s intensity will be “difficult to predict” due to its very small size.
“Confidence in the official intensity forecast is also lower than normal,” the Center warned. “Rapid changes in intensity, both up and down, that are difficult to predict are possible during the next couple days.”
The first named storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, subtropical storm Alberto, failed to reach hurricane status. But it still led to several fatalities and approximately $50 million in damage.
Many Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico, were devastated by intense storms during last year’s hurricane season, which officially lasts from June 1 until November 30.
Some experts have raised concerns that climate change might be generating stronger hurricanes, while climate scientists have warned the 2018 hurricane season could be worse than usual.