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Hurricane Beryl Lashes Cayman Islands on Path Toward Mexico

(Bloomberg) — Hurricane Beryl roared toward the Cayman Islands with strong winds and ocean surge, after the brunt of the deadly storm passed Jamaica.

The eye of the Category 3 hurricane, downgraded from Category 4 earlier on Thursday, is nearing Grand Cayman as it pushes westward, lashing the islands with winds of 120 miles (195 kilometers) per hour. 

Beryl has already left a trail of destruction through the Caribbean, and earlier this week its winds topped the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, achieving rare Category 5 strength. It was the earliest Atlantic storm to do so, signaling an unusually active hurricane season as hot ocean waters fuel tropical systems. 

The storm surge swamping the coast could reach up to 4 feet on the Cayman Islands, and there were forecasts of as much as 6 inches of rain there. Heavy precipitation will continue in Jamaica through the morning, with flash flooding and mudslides possible.

Beryl may also cause damage to oil installations as the US Gulf coast is on its potential path. Valero Energy Corp., Citgo Petroleum Corp. and Flint Hills Resources LLC all have refineries in the Corpus Christi area. 

“I am encouraging all Jamaicans to take the hurricane as a serious threat,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said. “It is, however, not a time for panic. It is a time for us to be very strategic and calculated in our approach.” 

The Associated Press reported at least six deaths as the hurricane raged across the southeast Caribbean. After Beryl sweeps south of the Cayman Islands, it is forecast to make landfall on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula Friday, where a hurricane warning has been posted. 

Conditions in the Yucatan will likely start to deteriorate Thursday, with torrential rains, strong winds, and crashing surf raking the region, according to the National Meteorological Service of Mexico.

Shell Plc is evacuating non-essential personnel and shutting in production from its Perdido deepwater oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico as a precaution, according to a company statement.

Though earlier models had the storm edging into the northern Gulf of Mexico after hitting the Yucatan, AccuWeather meteorologist Tyler Roys said it will likely make its final landfall in northern Mexico or even near Brownsville, Texas by late Sunday or early Monday. 

While the humanitarian losses are still being assessed, there are signs Beryl is having an impact on markets. 

Beryl made landfall Monday on Carriacou, the second-largest of Grenada’s islands. The electricity and communications system has been completely destroyed and the island’s marina — the heart of its tourism industry — was also significantly damaged, Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said in a national address.

“It is going to be a mammoth task to rebuild,” Mitchell said.

–With assistance from Jim Wyss, Megan Durisin, Amanda Jordan, Atul Prakash and Jack Wittels.

(Updates details in second paragraph, adds refineries in fifth.)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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