Hurricane Beryl strengthens to Category 4 storm, Atlantic's earliest Cat 4 on record

According to the National Hurricane Center, Beryl strengthened to an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm on Sunday afternoon.

FOX 13 New Meteorologist Valerie Mills says the storm quickly intensified over the last 24 hours as it spins about 400 miles east-southeast of Barbados. As of 12 p.m. on Sunday, sustained winds were at 130 mph.

According to FOX Weather, Beryl intensified from a tropical depression to a major Category 3 hurricane in only 42 hours, a feat never before achieved earlier than September. This is the Atlantic's earliest Category 4 hurricane on record.

FOX Weather says the previous record for the earliest Category 4 hurricane on record was Hurricane Dennis, which reached Cat 4 strength on July 8, 2005.

There are currently no immediate threats to mainland U.S., but catastrophic destruction is possible across populated island nations.

Mills says the storm has developed an eye and deep convection is becoming more organized around the storm’s center this morning, a sign of the storm strengthening.

The hurricane became a Category 4 storm as it spins over very warm Atlantic waters. It is forecast to bring life-threatening winds and storm surge to Caribbean islands starting early Monday morning.

All conditions are favorable for additional strengthening before impacting land, according to Mills.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • Barbados
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadine Islands
  • Grenada
  • Tobago

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Martinique and a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Dominica.

A Category 4 hurricane is unusual for June in the tropical Atlantic since the average date for the first hurricane formation in the Atlantic Basin is Aug. 11, according to FOX Weather. Mills says Beryl is the farthest east a hurricane has formed on record during the month of June.

Once Beryl enters the Caribbean, the storm will encounter stronger wind shear which will likely cause the hurricane to weaken through mid-week. But at this point, Mills says forecasts still call for it to maintain Category 2 strength.

According to the NHC, a tropical depression also formed over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. There's the potential for heavy rain and flooding for portions of Mexico.

FOX Weather contributed to this story.

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