A tropical storm watch has been issued for the Cayman Islands
The National Weather Service is keeping a close eye a tropical wave that could impact our islands overnight.
The weather system, known for the moment as 97-L, is expected to get stronger. Forecasters give it an 80% chance of being upgraded to a tropical depression or tropical storm in the next 48 hours.
“If you kind of imagine the center line of that passing well to the south of us, we are in the northern periphery of the error cone as it were, so it can get to us,” said NWS Director General John Tibbetts, gesturing to a computer model prediction of the storm’s possible path westward.
Though it appears Cayman will be spared a direct hit from an approaching tropical wave, Mr. Tibbetts told Cayman 27 it’s likely to pass close enough to pack a punch.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily that the center will come over us, but it may be close enough to produce that 40 to 45 miles per hour area of bad weather we are talking about,” he said.
He told Cayman 27 in addition to strong winds and rough seas, the storm could generate enough rainfall to cause flooding in some of the island’s more flood-prone areas.
“Right now the weather models are looking for an inch of rainfall per 24 hours, that was the last number I heard,” explained Mr. Tibbetts. “However my experience with these systems is that the rainfall predictions are usually not necessarily that accurate.”
Mr. Tibbetts said the fast-moving storm is likely to slow down as it heads west, creating more favorable conditions for the storm to gain strength.
“I would advise the public that you have to stay and pay attention to this because I think you’re going to see things change, the scenario change with it as time goes along,” he said.
After a couple quiet seasons of tropical storm activity, he said a storm like this one provides a chance for residents to review their hurricane plans.
“You can dust off the old hurricane plans, it does’t mean that I think it will be a hurricane, but some of the aspects of your hurricane plan can be useful for you in terms of making sure you’re well prepared,” he said.
Seas are expected to be rough, with 5 to 7 wave heights predicted.
The RCIPS Joint Marine Unit is recommending boaters to suspend all boating activity over the next 24-36 hours. Boat owners should secure vessels on land if possible, or secure larger vessels with docking lines and fenders.
As bad weather rolls in, Hazard Management Cayman Islands reminds the public it’s not a bad time to review your hurricane plan.
While this storm may not be expected to pack a hurricane punch, there are a few common sense steps that can be taken around the house.
Those who live in flood prone areas are urged to get those sandbags ready in case the water rises. Also, outdoor furniture and other items around the home should be secured or brought indoors.
“We are somewhat threatened by this storm,” said HMCI Deputy Director Omar Afflick. “It’s not a severe threat, but nevertheless, take the opportunity to practice your preparedness activities, your preparedness plan, and exercise them. Sit with the family, have that discussion.”
Mr. Afflick told Cayman 27 now could be an appropriate time to check your hurricane supply kit for battery powered lighting, non-perishable food items, and other essentials.