Beryl Strengthens to a Hurricane East of the Lesser Antilles

Former Tropical Storm Beryl strengthened into a hurricane east of the Lesser Antilles on Friday morning.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Friday the center of Hurricane Beryl was located at latitude 10.7°N and longitude 46.5°W which put it about 1045 miles (1685 km) east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles.  Beryl was moving toward the west at 15 m.p.h. (24 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 95 m.p.h. (155 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 994 mb.

The circulation of Hurricane Beryl remains very small.  There is an eye with a diameter of 6 miles (9 km) at the center of circulation.  The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the hurricane force winds are occurring in this ring of storms.  Several short, narrow bands of showers and thunderstorms are revolving around the core of the circulation.  Storms near the core are generating upper level divergence which is pumping mass away from the hurricane.  Winds to hurricane force only extend out about 10 miles (15 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force only extend out about 40 miles (65 km) from the center.

Hurricane Beryl will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 24 to 48 hours.  Beryl will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 27°C.  It is moving south of an upper level ridge.  The ridge is producing easterly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation.  However, the wind speeds are similar at all levels and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Beryl is likely to intensify during the next day or so.  There is less mass in motion in a very small hurricane and so it can intensify quickly, but a small hurricane can also weaken quickly if vertical wind shear increases.

Hurricane Beryl is moving south of the subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean and the high is steering Beryl toward the west.  A general motion toward the west-northwest is forecast for the next several days.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Beryl could approach the Lesser Antilles later on Sunday.  Beryl could be a hurricane when it nears the Lesser Antilles and watches and warnings may be issued later on Friday or on Saturday.