Hurricane Beryl churns towards Jamaica, bringing floods; at least two reported killed

LONDON (Reuters) – Hurricane Beryl barreled towards Jamaica as a powerful Category 5 storm on Tuesday after making landfall on smaller islands in the Caribbean, downing power lines, bringing floods and reportedly killing two people.

The storm made landfall on Monday on Carriacou island, part of Grenada, where one person was killed, the BBC reported, and power was cut island-wide. Another person was reportedly killed in St Vincent, though Reuters could not immediately verify either fatality.

Beryl is expected to bring 4 to 12 inches of rainfall to Jamaica on Wednesday, possibly triggering flash floods, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

As of 1200 GMT, Beryl, packing winds of up to 165 miles per hour (250 kilometres per hour), was about 625 miles (1,006 km) east-south east of Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, it said.

The unusually early timing and rapid intensification of the storm, the first in this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, is partly due to warmer ocean temperatures, scientists say.

Jamaica issued a hurricane warning on Monday, while tropical storm warnings were in effect for parts of the southern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The “potentially catastrophic” storm struck the Caribbean region earlier in the day as a Category 4 storm and was expected to bring life-threatening winds and a storm surge to Jamaica.

While it has picked up to a 5 on a five-point scale, it was expected to become less intense later in the day, NHC said.

The storm’s center “will move quickly across the southeastern and central Caribbean Sea today and is forecast to pass near Jamaica on Wednesday and the Cayman Islands on Thursday,” the weather agency said.

Across other islands in the eastern Caribbean, residents had boarded up windows, stocked up on food and fueled up cars ahead of the storm.

Dozens of vessels in the storm’s path risk being affected, with diversions seen in the Caribbean, according to Vortexa, which provides energy-cargo tracking data.

Officials in Mexico have also begun to prepare for Beryl’s arrival later this week, with the federal government urging authorities and citizens to show “extreme caution.

(Writing by Bernadette Baum; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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