The first hurricane of the 2018 season is headed for the Caribbean this weekend.
Hurricane Beryl, currently a Category 1 storm with top wind speeds of 80 miles per hour, was still roughly 1,000 miles from the Lesser Antilles as of mid-day Friday. The storm is expected to make landfall by late Sunday night.
Beryl is still a small storm; the hurricane-force winds extend only 10 miles or so from its eye. But the same conditions that allowed Beryl to intensify from a tropical storm to a full-blown hurricane in less than 24 hours—high sea surface temperatures and low wind shear, for example—could persist over the next few days, according to the National Hurricane Center, allowing the storm to intensify even more.
It's too early to say which islands Hurricane Beryl will hit and how strong the storm will be when it makes landfall, but much of the Caribbean is still recovering from last year's record-breaking hurricane season.
Even a weaker tropical storm could do major damage in Puerto Rico, where the temporary power grid built in the wake of Hurricane Maria is still vulnerable to the kind of intense rain showers that Beryl is expected to bring. Islands like Dominica and Puerto Rico are already opening shelters ahead of the storm.