Cayman greets Ernesto with calm

Members of the Cayman Islands National Hurricane Committee continued to keep an eye on Hurricane Ernesto Sunday morning as the storm’s track changed slightly in favour of Cayman.

Ernesto was upgraded to a hurricane early Sunday morning. Its coordinates at 8am were Latitude 17.3 North, Longitude 73.4 west, or about 115 miles southwest of Port au Prince, Haiti and about 210 miles south-southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba.

A Hurricane Watch remained in effect for Cayman, although the committee was likely to revise the watch status later Sunday.

‘This system is still to the south and east of us and we cannot relax our guard and feel we are home free yet,’ advised Cayman’s National Hurricane Chairman Donovan Ebanks.

He said the NHC will continue to monitor the system closely and residents are urged to do likewise and to pay close attention to local media.

The Cayman Islands Weather Service is not expecting tropical storm force conditions for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Based on current projections, residents of those two islands may expect rough seas, particularly on the north side of the islands, and squally weather, with a less intense picture for Grand Cayman, states a press release from NCH.

All residents of the Cayman Islands should continue to exercise care, given continued potential for change in the projected path of the system.

As the first hurricane of the 2006 Atlantic season was forming residents on all three islands showed their determination to make preparations in an orderly fashion.

While home and food stores were busier than usual Friday and Saturday, there was no sense of panic.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts took note of the countrywide calm in his address to the country Sunday morning.

‘I have been encouraged by the way you have responded,’ he said. ‘I have just returned from the Sister Islands early this morning and I have seen first-hand the high level of alertness of residents and businesses alike and, of course, of the district commissioner and his team.

‘Members of the population of all three islands have truly encouraged us in the way you have prepared for this, our first storm threat of the season.’

He also warned the public not to become complacent as it appears Hurricane Ernesto will present no major threat to the Cayman Islands.

‘Although we have relatively good news at this time, we want to advise that you to maintain this diligence until we are confident that this storm system has passed our vicinity,’ he said.

Caymanian Compass management and staff will continue to monitor Hurricane Ernesto and give readers full details Tuesday. However, for timely updates log on to the paper’s website at www.caycompass.com.

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