Beryl tracker update: Increasing risk of 'life-threatening’ storm surge as path heads toward Texas

Beryl was downgraded to a tropical storm but is expected to become a hurricane again this weekend.

A tree uprooted by Hurricane Beryl lays on a street in Tulum, Mexico, on July 5.
A tree uprooted by Hurricane Beryl lies on a street in Tulum, Mexico, on Friday. (Fernando Llano/AP)

After moving through the Caribbean last week, Beryl — currently a tropical storm — is expected to reach Texas this weekend and once again become a hurricane.

As of 7 a.m. CT on Sunday morning, Beryl was about 220 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, with maximum sustained winds around 60 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to intensify between Sunday and Monday, with Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick adding 121 counties to the state's Hurricane Beryl disaster declaration.

Meteorologists warned that “there is an increasing risk of life-threatening storm surge for the Texas Coast.” The storm has been blamed for at least 11 deaths so far.

Tropical Storm Beryl is currently moving through the Gulf of Mexico and is anticipated to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane as it approaches the Texas coast. Hurricane warnings have been issued for parts of the coast — from the mouth of the Rio Grande northward to San Luis Pass — while a storm surge watch is in place from the mouth of the Rio Grande northward to High Island.

A tropical storm warning was also in effect for the Texas coast south of Baffin Bay to the mouth of the Rio Grande, as well as for the northeastern coast of mainland Mexico from Barra el Mezquital to the mouth of the Rio Grande.

Beryl hit Jamaica on Wednesday as a Category 3 storm, causing widespread outages and damage before passing over the Cayman Islands and heading toward Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. On July 3, the Jamaica Public Service Company reported that more than 400,000 customers were without power across the country.

Beryl did the most severe damage when it made landfall earlier this week on the Grenadines, a small belt of islands in the eastern Caribbean. About 90% of buildings and homes on three small islands were destroyed or damaged when Beryl made landfall earlier this week, officials said at a news conference held by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness has declared the country a disaster area until July 10.

Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell described the "total destruction" to the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique in Grenada at a news conference Wednesday.

"Having seen it myself, there is really nothing that can prepare you to see this level of destruction," Mitchell said. "It is almost Armageddon-like, almost total damage and destruction of all buildings, whether they be public buildings, homes or private facilities."

Mitchell also described the "complete devastation and destruction" of agriculture and the natural environment, and severe damage to boats, marinas and the electrical grid on Carriacou.

Over a dozen boats appear listing and strewn about a harbor in Barbados.
Fishing vessels damaged by Hurricane Beryl seen in Barbados on Monday. (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

Michael Lowry, a hurricane and storm surge expert, told the Associated Press that the rapid development of Beryl marked a "very serious threat."

"Beryl is an extremely dangerous and rare hurricane for this time of year in this area," he said in a phone interview with the AP. "Unusual is an understatement. Beryl is already a historic hurricane."

On July 2, Beryl became the earliest Atlantic hurricane to reach the Category 5 level. (It is both the earliest Category 4 and Category 5 storm on record in the Atlantic.)

The last strong hurricane to affect the southeast Caribbean was Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Ivan battered Grenada as a Category 3 and killed 39 people.

Image from space of Earth with massive spiraling cloud structure.
An image of Hurricane Beryl taken from the International Space Station on Sunday. (NASA via AP)

Beryl's emergence also marks an ominous start to the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, which typically doesn't ramp up until late July or August.

Experts agree that this could be one of the busiest hurricane seasons on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced in May that it expected eight to 13 hurricanes in the Atlantic, with four to seven of them classified as major hurricanes, meaning at least 111 mph winds.