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Beryl set to strengthen on its way to Texas due to hot ocean temps

With its unprecedented tear through the ultrawarm waters of the southeast Caribbean, Beryl turned meteorologists’ worst fears of a souped-up hurricane season into grim reality. Now it’s Texas turn.

Beryl hit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 2 hurricane on Friday, then weakened to a tropical storm. It’s expected to reach southern Texas by Sunday night or Monday morning, regaining hurricane status as it crosses over the toasty Gulf of Mexico.

National Hurricane Center senior specialist Jack Beven said Beryl is likely to make landfall somewhere between Brownsville and a bit north of Corpus Christi Monday. The hurricane center forecasts it will hit as a strong Category 1 storm, but wrote “this could be conservative if Beryl stays over water longer” than expected.

The waters in the Gulf of Mexico are warm enough for the early-season storm to rapidly intensify, as it has several times before.

“We should not be surprised if this is rapidly intensifying before landfall and it could become a major hurricane,” said Weather Underground co-founder Jeff Masters, a former government hurricane meteorologist who flew into storms. “Category 2 may be more likely but we should not dismiss a Category 3 possibility.”

Beven said the official forecast has Beryl gaining 17 to 23 mph in wind speed in 24 hours, but noted the storm intensified more rapidly than forecasters expected earlier in the Caribbean.

Already three times in its one-week life, Beryl has gained 35 mph in wind speed in 24 hours or less, the official weather service definition of rapid intensification.

The storm zipped from 35 mph to 75 mph on June 28. It went went from 80 mph to 115 mph in the overnight hours of June 29 into June 30 and on July 1 it went from 120 mph to 155 mph in just 15 hours, according to hurricane center records.

Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach, using a different tracking system, said he counted eight different periods when Beryl rapidly intensified — something that has only happened in the Atlantic in July two other times.

Beryl smashed various records even before its major hurricane-level winds approached the island of Carriacou in Grenada on Monday.

Beryl set the record for the earliest Category 4 with winds of at least 130 mph — the first-ever category 4 in June. It also was the earliest storm to rapidly intensify with wind speeds jumping 63 mph in 24 hours, going from an unnamed depression to a Category 4 in 48 hours.

Forecasters predicted months ago it was going to be a nasty year and now they are comparing it to record busy 1933 and deadly 2005 — the year of Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Dennis.

Warm water acts as fuel for the thunderstorms and clouds that form hurricanes. The warmer the water, and thus the air at the bottom of the storm, the better the chance it will rise higher in the atmosphere and create deeper thunderstorms, said the University at Albany’s Kristen Corbosiero.

Atlantic waters have been record warm since April 2023. Klotzbach said a high pressure system that normally sets up cooling trade winds collapsed then and hasn’t returned.

Corbosiero said scientists are debating what exactly climate change does to hurricanes, but have come to an agreement that it makes them more prone to rapidly intensifying, and increase the strongest storms, like Beryl.

MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel said the slowdown of Atlantic ocean currents, likely caused by climate change, may also be a factor in the warm water.


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