Hurricane Beryl continues to leave its mark on the Caribbean

Feature image via Canva Pro.

At approximately 11:10 a.m. (UTC-4) on Monday, July 1, the eye of the record-breaking Hurricane Beryl made landfall on the tiny island of Carriacou in the Grenadines. An 11:15 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said that the storm had continued to intensify, with maximum sustained winds of 241.4 kilometres (150 miles) per hour.

The hurricane is currently moving in a west-northwesterly direction at a pace of about 32 km (20 miles) per hour. Other locations in the Grenadines, including Union Island and Petite Martinique have been experiencing strong winds and are under threat from high storm surges, which Barbados and Tobago — though not affected by the eye, solely by the storm's outer bands — have already been grappling with. Marine advisories remain in effect for Barbados which, along with Tobago, is still being affected by feeder bands. The Tobago alert was later downgraded to a tropical storm warning and has since been discontinued, though a yellow-level adverse weather alert remains in place.

In terms of damage, Barbados experienced some power outages, with approximately 25 percent of customers losing service. The country's water authority had taken a decision to shut down the water supply island-wide prior to the storm in an effort to “protect critical infrastructure.”

Several videos of storm surges were making the rounds on Whatsapp, showing waves crashing onto jetties and a popular party boat, believed to be the Jolly Roger, being sunk. Some roads along Barbados’ south coast also took a beating from the surges; there was flooding in some areas, and others were littered with debris. Barbadian officials have already started assessing the extent of the damage with the help of drones.

Hurricane warnings remain in effect for Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while tropical storm warnings apply to St. Lucia and Martinique. Jamaica, to the top of the archipelago, is also preparing for the possibility that Beryl will strike; a hurricane watch has been issued for that island:

If Beryl stays on its current trajectory, it is expected to reach Jamaica by the morning of July 3.

As the islands of the Grenadines hunkered down in the midst of the barrage, Grenada's Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell soon advised that Beryl had “flattened Carriacou” in as little as half an hour, leaving widespread devastation on the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

When Hurricane Ivan rampaged its way across the island in 2004, devastating its economy and infrastructure, there was also a significant loss of life. With Beryl, though, no official numbers appear to yet have been released. The Washington Post reported at least one death, attributed to a collapsing house.

Videos of the storm's effects were being shared on social media:

Due to the extensive storm surge, many buildings lost roofs and sustained other damage. Both Carriacou and Petite Martinique remain without electricity, making communication difficult. Prime Minister Mitchell hopes that teams will be able to begin assessing the damage as soon as possible. The immediate focus will be on providing temporary housing to those who have lost their homes and sourcing materials and water for recovery efforts.

On the larger island of Grenada, where thousands took refuge in emergency shelters, several roofs, including that of the island's Central Police Station located on The Carenage — the capital's scenic inlet — were blown away. The nearby Mt. Gay Hospital was also damaged. The country's state of emergency has not yet been lifted.

Like the other islands in the storm's path, St. Lucia has been experiencing very strong winds:

The Facebook group Hunters Search and Rescue Team posted a video — allegedly also taken in St. Lucia — showing a few men dangerously attempting to secure sheets of galvanize in very strong wind conditions.

Slightly higher up the archipelago, in Dominica, heavy rains continued to fall, while in St. Vincent, at least one storm chaser reported that conditions have been escalating fast:

Rainfall amounts are expected to be between three to six inches.

At this stage, there is nothing else these islands can do to prepare. In the words of one social media user:

A look at Zoom Earth's live weather map and hurricane tracker shows a new system, currently called Invest 96L, forming in the lower Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center gives it a 50 percent chance of developing; if it does, it may choose a course similar to Beryl’s, potentially bringing further destruction to the islands that are reluctant vanguards in an ever-worsening annual battle.

In that vein, prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, having been forced with his compatriots to ride out the storm as best they could, was in no mood for diplomacy. Calling the United Nation's Conference of the Parties (COP) “largely a talk shop,” Gonsalves had a stern message for major greenhouse gas emitters: “[T]hose who contribute most to global warning, you are getting a lot of talking, but you are not seeing a lot of action — as in making money available to small-island developing states and other vulnerable countries. I am hopeful that what is happening — and we are quite early in the hurricane season — will alert them to our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses and encourage them to honour the commitments they have made on a range of issues, from the Paris Accord to the current time.”

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.