The latest forecast models indicate Cayman is likely to escape the brunt of hurricane Irma’s wrath, but the National Weather Service is urging the public not to take an eye off this storm.
There is plenty of hurricane activity in the tropics, with Irma, Jose, and Katja all active. Let’s focus though, on Irma. She’s the biggest and the baddest of all three, packing winds of 175 miles an hour. Irma is expected to contine chugging along to the north-northwest at about 16 miles an hour.
Friday morning, Irma is expected to be be over the eastern half of Cuba. Friday afternoon, winds here will shift to the north-northeast and begin to pick up. The storm’s closest approach is expected to be sometime Saturday morning, more than 300 miles from Grand Cayman.
“Still a major hurricane, still a category five,” said NWS Meteorologist Alan Ebanks. “”The closest point of the approach would be about 262 miles from the sister islands, that’s on Saturday morning. At that point in time, they’re predicting tropical storm force winds to be somewhere about 100 miles south, on the southwestern portion of the hurricane.”
According to the latest forecast models, Cayman is likely to be outside the range of hurricane Irma’s fury.While tropical storm force winds won’t likely touch Cayman’s shores, but winds and seas are expected to pick up.
“Grand Cayman, we are expecting 15-20 knots and higher gusts, the sister islands about 20-25 knots with higher gusts as well,” said Mr. Ebanks. “In terms of weather, in terms of the cloudiness and showers, the sister islands is expecting to have more heavy, and violent type showers as opposed to Grand Cayman.
Wind direction is expected to shift to the northwest Friday afternoon.
“Especially Seven Mile Beach and those places, you may get some of the beaches being you know, washed away, a lot of erosion, beach erosion,” said Mr. Ebanks.
Mr. Ebanks said the Met office has launched additional weather balloons to further assist US officials in predicting Irma’s path.
While it appears Cayman can likely chalk up Irma as a near miss, he said residents should still keep an eye on the storm.
While it appears Cayman may be spared a direct hit from Irma, the storm’s impact on Florida could cause us to feel some ripple effects here on the shipping side.