Here's Beryl, the first hurricane of the 2018 season

Here's Beryl, the first hurricane of the 2018 season

Here's Beryl, the first hurricane of the 2018 season

The updated NHC forecast shows Beryl reaching the Lesser Antilles as a tropical storm, but it is possible that the system will have degenerated into an open trough by that time. On this forecast track, Beryl will remain east of the Lesser Antilles through Sunday.

Sustained winds are near 30 miles per hour with higher gusts and the depression is forecast to become Tropical Storm Chris on Saturday, with gradual strengthening expected through Monday when it could reach hurricane strength well off shore.

Even more worrisome: Beryl's path takes it dangerously close to tiny Dominica, an island-nation of 75,000 people still struggling to recover after taking a direct hit from Hurricane Maria a year ago. Tropical Storm Alberto was the season's first, which developed in late May. The storm's hurricane-force winds are only 20 miles wide, relatively small for a hurricane, so Beryl's behavior is especially unpredictable.

The depression was forecast to become a tropical storm on Saturday, with gradual strengthening expected through Monday.

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Meteorologists say Beryl is a compact hurricane, with hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 10 miles from the centre, and tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 35 miles.

"Regardless of its strength, we would expect it to bring heavy rainfall to some of those islands, which could be prone to flash flooding and mudslides", Berg said. It formed in May, just before the June 1 start of hurricane season.

The hurricane center predicts the storm will continue its path heading northwest off the coast of North Carolina. Lojero also warned that the storm is expected to dump up to four inches of rain and could unleash landslides.

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