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'It's hard to communicate how unbelievable this is': Hurricane Beryl is the earliest Category 5 storm on record

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Hurricane Beryl has become the earliest Category 5 storm on record, as unprecedentedly warm oceans cause powerful storms to form earlier in the year than ever before. 

The monster storm is currently sowing devastation across the Caribbean.

Despite appearing at the  usually subdued beginning of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season — a period running from June to November — the freak hurricane exploded from a tropical depression into a Category 5 storm between Friday (June 30) and Monday (July 1) as it Traveled west. 

With winds topping out at 165 mph (265 km/h), Beryl has already caused widespread damage and killed several people across Carriacou (an island in Grenada), St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The storm, which has since slowed to a Category 4, is expected to next make landfall in Jamaica and then the Cayman Islands.

"In half an hour, Carriacou was flattened," Dickon Mitchell, the prime minister of Grenada, said at a news conference on Monday (July. 1). "There is really nothing that could prepare you to see this level of destruction. It is almost Armageddon-like. Almost total damage or destruction of all buildings, whether they be public buildings, homes or private facilities. Complete devastation and destruction of agriculture, complete and total destruction of the natural environment. There is literally no vegetation left anywhere on the island of Carriacou."

Related: We may need a new 'Category 6' hurricane level for winds over 192 mph, study suggests

Scientists have been shocked at the storm's ferocity and how quickly it developed so early in the hurricane season. Brain McNoldy, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Miami, noted on June 30 that the previous record for a Category 4 hurricane in the same region as Beryl was set on Aug. 7, 1899, and the previous earliest date that a storm intensified at the same rate was on Sept. 1.

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