Canada issues travel warning as Hurricane Beryl tears through southeast Caribbean (2024)

As Hurricane Beryl rips through the southeast Caribbean, Global Affairs Canada is warning travellers to avoid non-essential travel to Jamaica as well as several countries in the region.

Non-essential travel warnings are in place for the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Union Island in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Carriacou and Petite Martinique in Grenada due to Hurricane Beryl.

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In the same statement, Canadians were also warned to avoid all travel to Haiti due to the hurricane, as well as threats posed by kidnappings, gang violence and civil unrest.

There are 3,162 Canadians registered in Haiti, 1,524 in the Cayman Islands, 1,625 in Jamaica, 236 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 341 in Grenada. GAC says those numbers only represent those who chose to register, adding that there may be more.

At least seven people have died. Tearing winds have also caused widespread property and environmental damage.

The actual death toll may be higher. Communications systems were largely knocked out in the storm’s path through the eastern part of the Caribbean.

Canada issues travel warning as Hurricane Beryl tears through southeast Caribbean (1)Hurricane Beryl's is expected to travel west through the week, eventually affecting Mexico and southern Texas. (NOAA)

The storm’s path

By Wednesday afternoon, the storm had already torn through St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

"Everything is destroyed, there's nothing else in Palm Island," Katie Rosiak, general manager of the Palm Island Resort, told Reuters.

Meanwhile, motorists lined up outside gas stations in Jamaica’s capital, Kingston. Steady rain has already washed out roads near the coast. High winds pelted parts of the island around midday, when the centre of the storm was located around 120 kilometres southeast of the city. Islanders are scrambling to board windows and bring boats ashore. Officials have warned people in flood-prone areas to prepare to leave.

Venezuela's vice president was injured by a falling tree as she surveyed an area south of Beryl’s path on Tuesday night, where the Manzanares River in Sucre state swelled, according to local state television.

Where is it going?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast “devastating, hurricane-force winds, life-threatening storm surge, and damaging waves” would hit Jamaica by Wednesday afternoon. Those conditions are expected to spread to the Cayman Islands by nightfall.

Jamaica and Haiti are also expected to experience mudslides through the day.

On Thursday, a dangerous storm surge is expected to cast heavy rainfall over the Yucatan Peninsula and Belize. Hurricane and tropical storm warnings are in effect for those areas.

The western Gulf of Mexico area, including Texas, is also in the storm’s path. That region is expected to feel Beryl’s effects over the weekend, though forecasters say the storm’s intensity is difficult to predict that far into the future.

A ‘very dangerous hurricane season’

The NOAA has predicted with 85 per cent certainty that 2024’s Atlantic hurricane season will be more active than usual.

The NOAA also predicted up to 13 hurricanes could develop, meaning wind speeds will exceed 120 km/h.

On Monday, Beryl developed into a Category 5 storm as peak winds sped to 270 km/h. It later weakened to Category 4.

The above-average season will be triggered by a number of factors, according to the agency, including "near-record" warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and La Nina conditions in the Pacific.

Beryl’s landfall “sets a precedent for what we fear is going to be a very, very, very active, very dangerous hurricane season,” World Meteorological Organization spokesperson Clare Nullis told reporters in Geneva, according to Reuters.

Canada issues travel warning as Hurricane Beryl tears through southeast Caribbean (2)Fishermen push a boat damaged by Hurricane Beryl at the Bridgetown fisheries, Barbados, Tuesday, July 2, 2024. (Ricardo Mazalan / The Associated Press)

What to do if you encounter a storm while travelling

GAC has published instructions for travellers who may find themselves in the path of a storm while abroad.

If you have time before the storm arrives:

  • Take stock of local emergency phone numbers. Make sure you have access to the transportation necessary to leave quickly.
  • Locate shelters and escape routes.
  • Make sure your travel mates are included and clear on your emergency plan.
  • Prepare an emergency kit. Ensure you have your passport, phone, charger, medication, and cash.

If you need to shelter in place:

  • Keep your emergency kit close by.
  • Keep the TV or radio on and monitor local media for updates.
  • Stay inside until you're told it's safe to exit.

Once the storm passes:

  • Stay out of flood water, which may be contaminated.
  • Don't drive through flooded areas, which could damage your vehicle.
  • Be careful around buildings and power lines that may be damaged.
  • Let your family and friends in Canada know you are safe.

Need help?

Canadians living and travelling abroad can get consular assistance by contacting the Emergency Watch and Response Centre:

  • By phone: +1 613-996-8885
  • By text: +1 613-686-3658
  • By email at sos@international.gc.ca
  • Via Signal at +1 613-909-8087
  • Via Telegram at Canada Emergency Abroad
  • Via WhatsApp at +1 613-909-8881
Canada issues travel warning as Hurricane Beryl tears through southeast Caribbean (2024)
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