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Belize Under Tropical Storm Watch Amid Record-Breaking Season

Belize is under a tropical storm watch as Hurricane Beryl, a rare early-season storm, intensifies in the Caribbean. This powerful hurricane is the earliest recorded category five Atlantic hurricane, highlighting concerns about global warming.

Early-Season Strength Unprecedented

Hurricane Beryl’s formation is significant, being the first storm in decades to reach such strength this early in the season. Experts attribute this anomaly to exceptionally high sea surface temperatures. Andra Garner, an assistant professor at Rowan University, told international media, “We know that as we warm the planet, we’re warming our sea surface temperatures as well. And we know that those warm ocean waters are a critical fuel source for hurricanes.”

Local Observations and Precautions

Chief Meteorology Officer Ronald Gordon addressed the situation earlier this week, telling the public: “The latest satellite imagery that I saw from Beryl shows that the eye has become a bit more ragged, indicating that the system is undergoing some weakening due to the shear, the vertical wind shear that we forecasted to start, and that is starting to affect the system.” He emphasized that the northern parts of Belize could experience tropical storm force winds and advised residents to remain vigilant.

Gordon announced on Tuesday that a tropical storm watch is in effect for Belize from Belize City northward to the border, including the islands of San Pedro and Caye Caulker. “Tropical storm watch in this case means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area during the next 48 to 72 hours,” Gordon explained.

Implications for the Region

The storm is expected to weaken as it moves over the Yucatan Peninsula but is still predicted to affect the region significantly. Ko Barrett, Deputy Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, told international media, “Hurricane Beryl sets a precedent for what we fear is going to be a very, very active, very dangerous hurricane season, which will impact the entire Atlantic basin.”

Potential Impacts and Future Outlook

Storm surges, heavy rainfall, and strong winds are expected. The NHC warns that storm surge could raise water levels by up to 6 feet above ground level along the Yucatan Peninsula's east coast. Additionally, heavy rainfall may lead to life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides in the region, including Belize.

Shuyi Chen, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington, highlighted Beryl's rapid intensification, telling international media: “What makes Beryl particularly notable is that it [...] intensified the fastest from a tropical depression to a hurricane [of any Atlantic hurricane in June or early July].”

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