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Beryl strengthens into a hurricane in the Atlantic, forecast to become a major storm

Beryl strengthened into a hurricane Saturday as it churned toward the southeastern Caribbean, with forecasters warning it was expected to become a dangerous major storm before reaching Barbados late Sunday or early Monday.

A major hurricane is considered Category 3 or higher, with winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph). At midafternoon Saturday, Beryl was a Category 1 hurricane, marking the farthest east that a hurricane formed in the tropical Atlantic in June, breaking a record set in 1933, according to Philip Klotzbach, Colorado State University hurricane researcher.

A hurricane warning was issued for Barbados, and a hurricane watch was in effect for St. Lucia, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A tropical storm watch was issued for Martinique, Dominica and Tobago.

"It's astonishing to see a forecast for a major (Category 3+) hurricane in June anywhere in the Atlantic, let alone this far east in the deep tropics. #Beryl organizing in a hurry over the warmest waters ever recorded for late June," Florida-based hurricane expert Michael Lowry posted on X.

Beryl's center was forecast to pass about 26 miles (45 kilometers) south of Barbados, said Sabu Best, director of the island's meteorological service. Forecasters then expected the storm to cross the Caribbean on a path toward Jamaica and eventually Mexico.

Late Saturday afternoon, Beryl was centered about 720 miles (1,160 kilometers) east-southeast of Barbados, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph). It was moving west at 22 mph (35 kph).

"Rapid strengthening is now forecast," the Miami-based U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Atmospheric science researcher Tomer Burg noted that Beryl was just a tropical depression with 35 mph winds Friday.

"This means that