BREAKING NEWS:Cayman under Storm Watch

The Cayman Islands is under a Tropical Storm Watch. With Tropical Storm Ernesto maintaining its projected path and intensity overnight, the National Hurricane Committee has declared a Tropical Storm Watch for the Cayman Islands. This could be upgraded to a Hurricane. Watch later this morning. Ernesto is expected to impact the Cayman Islands as a Category 1 hurricane.

Storm moves in

Tropical Storm Ernesto formed Friday, but poses no immediate threat to land. It has potentian to become the first hurricane of the 2006 Atlantic season. Photo: AP

All residents should continue to monitor this system very carefully and preparations should be given priority this morning with the anticipation of completing them today.

The National Hurricane Committee made the decision late Friday. An Alert phase means that Tropical Storm Ernesto is expected to affect the islands within 48 hours. Cayman’s National Weather Service is currently projecting the onset of tropical storm force winds on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman at about 8pm Sunday and on Grand Cayman at about 1am on Monday.

If the system maintains its current direction and speed, the NHC will most likely declare a Watch phase by tomorrow (Saturday) morning. Ernest was on a west, northwest track at 7am Saturday with wind speeds of 50 miles an hour. The system is being closely monitored by the Cayman Islands Weather Service and the National Hurricane Committee.

All residents should pay attention to local weather sources and further NHC advisories. Given the current projections, residents should complete their preparations tomorrow

(Saturday). Residents should also keep in mind that there is still potential for the system to change course or to increase or decrease in intensity.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the south coast of Hispaniola from the Haiti-Dominican Republic border westward to the southwestern tip of Haiti. A tropical storm warning will likely be required for Jamaica later today, according to the US National Hurricane Center, which said a hurricane watch will likely be issued for the Cayman Islands later this morning.

At 7am today the centre of Tropical Storm Ernest was located near latitude 15.0 North, Longitude 70.6 west or about 245 miles south southwest of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and about 455 miles east southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. Ernesto is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 miles per hour and this motion is expected to continue during the next 24 hours on this track.

The core of Ernesto will pass south of the Southern Cost of Hispaniolia today. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 50mph with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours. Tropical storm winds could extend outward up to 115 miles from the centre. Rainfall amounts of two to four inches are expected in association with Ernest across portions of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the

Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica with possible isolated amounts of eight inches.