The first possible hurricane of the 2006 Atlantic Hurricane Season is lurking in the Eastern Caribbean.
It was a tropical storm yesterday morning when winds had increased to 65 miles an hour; just 10 more and we have a Category 1 hurricane.
The National Hurricane Center predicted the storm would be at hurricane strength by late Wednesday or early today.
And as Tropical Storm Chris becomes Hurricane Chris, we’ll track him and monitor weather websites and television reports.
Our Caribbean neighbours in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are more than likely the first targets of Chris as it marches north westward.
Right now the storm is being tracked to go between Cuba and Florida, through the Florida Straits.
But no one knows for sure how big Chris will grow and where it will unleash its fury.
If the storm is big enough, we could get some activity in the Cayman Islands in the form of wind and rain.
If the storm decides to make a southern move we could get worse.
In the words of Cayman’s Head of Meteorological Services Fred Sambula, hurricanes are not just the line of their predicted path, but a wide area of destruction.
Beyond that, even with all of the modern technology available today, forecasting the strength and paths of hurricanes remains an inexact science; there are simply too many variables involved to safely predict where a hurricane will go.
This was a lesson we learned all too well with Ivan, which confounded the experts by not turning north as early as it was expected to, transforming what everyone in Grand Cayman thought would be a wind and rain event into a struggle for survival.
Soon to be Hurricane Chris will do whatever Hurricane Chris wants to do and all we can do in response is be as much prepared as possible.
Don’t wait until the last minute when just about everyone will be scrambling for hurricane supplies, which may at that time be in short supply.
Those who wait until the deadline to prepare for a storm are doing themselves and others on the islands an injustice. They’re clogging roadways and keeping others from getting home to batten down and wait.
Do we think the Cayman Islands should panic over Chris? No, not yet.
But we do think everyone in the Cayman Islands has a responsibility during every hurricane season to be prepared for anything.
Hopefully Chris will just be a reminder to us that we need to stock up on hurricane supplies, make family and business plans and secure shutters for homes and offices.
It’s never too early to prepare.