Hurricane Beryl strengthens slightly in Atlantic, forecasters say

A few strong to severe storms possible Thursday

Tropical Storm Beryl could become hurricane on Friday

The Category 1 hurricane, the first of the 2018 Atlantic season, strengthened from a tropical depression to a hurricane within 24 hours, surprising specialists who dubbed it "Brazen Beryl".

The National Hurricane Center describes Beryl as a "very compact hurricane", with hurricane-force winds extending 10 miles from the center, and tropical-storm force winds seen up to 35 miles from the center.

As of noon on Friday, Beryl was packing maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour.

The storm is heading west-northwestward towards the Lesser Antilles at a fairly slow pace but is expected to gain forward momentum through the weekend. But as of early Friday afternoon, the storm system was lingering several hundred miles southeast of the North Carolina coast, posing no threat to the Garden State.

It is forecast to take a faster west-northwest past through the weekend and remain east of the Lesser Antilles through early Sunday. It will bring wind and rain to the area.

It is forecast to encounter the wind shear and deplete near the eastern islands of the Caribbean before reaching land.

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Beyond the Lesser Antilles, Beryl looks to slide just south of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola sometime late Sunday into Monday.

The hurricane gained strength Friday morning and was a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of almost 80 miles per hour (130 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm became a tropical depression and then a tropical storm on Thursday.

The National Hurricane Center is tracking two systems in the Atlantic.

Rapid changes in intensity - both up and down - are possible in coming days.

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