Hurricane Beryl became the first hurricane of the 2024 season on Saturday as it steamed toward the Caribbean. The National Hurricane Center predicts that Beryl will grow into a major hurricane in the coming days, likely a category 3 or better.

As of 5 p.m., the center of Beryl was located 720 miles east-southeast of Barbados, with sustained winds of 75 mph, moving west at 22 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend 10 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend 60 miles outward.

The system formed as a tropical depression on Friday but quickly intensified, earning its name by late Friday. Throughout Saturday, it continued to strengthen. “The storm has been on a steady strengthening trend since it formed yesterday, and now that its structure is more symmetric and compact, it likely will have an opportunity to rapidly intensify given the low wind-shear conditions,” said NHC senior hurricane specialist John Cangialosi. “The new NHC intensity forecast explicitly calls for rapid strengthening and shows Beryl becoming a major hurricane before moving across the Windward Islands.”

A hurricane warning is in place for Barbados, with hurricane watches issued for St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. Tropical storm watches are in effect for Martinique, Dominica, and the island of Tobago.

Storm surge is expected to raise water levels by 5 to 7 feet, accompanied by large and destructive waves. Rainfall predictions range from 3 to 6 inches across Barbados and the Windward Islands on Sunday night, 1 to 4 inches over southeastern Puerto Rico on Monday night into Tuesday, and 2 to 6 inches over southern Hispaniola from Tuesday into Wednesday.

The forecast anticipates Beryl’s intensity to grow to a Category 3 hurricane early Monday as it moves into the Caribbean, with sustained winds of 115 mph and gusts up to 140 mph. It’s expected to remain a major hurricane while passing south of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, potentially intensifying further to 120 mph sustained winds and 150 mph gusts. However, it may weaken to a Category 2 hurricane as it approaches Jamaica on Wednesday.