The Cayman Islands is under a Hurricane Watch as of 10am today.
Watch status indicates that the Islands could begin experiencing storm or hurricane conditions within the next 36 hours.
The latest update from the National Hurricane Centre in Miami issued at 7am indicates that Hurricane Dean is located near latitude 15.4 north…longitude 67.9 west or about 615 miles…990 km…east-south-east of Kingston Jamaica. Dean is moving toward the west near 17 mph. A general west to west-northwest motion is expected during the next 24 hours on this track…the core of the hurricane will be moving south of the Dominican Republic later today and south of Haiti tonight.
Maximum sustained winds are near 150 mph with higher gusts. Satellite images suggest that Dean might have weakened a little during the past few hours, but remains a dangerous Category 4 hurricane.
According to the National Hurricane Centre, some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next 24 hours.
Cayman Islands Leader of Government Business Kurt D. Tibbetts has urged all residents of Grand Cayman to be prepared for a direct hit from a predicted strong Category 4 Hurricane Dean.
The storm is forecast to have 130 mph winds when over Grand Cayman.
Briefing the media at the Government Information Services conference room, Mr. Tibbetts and his Cabinet colleague Mr. Arden V. McLean, Minister of Works, made a direct plea to all residents not to take Hurricane Dean lightly but to complete all their preparations as early as possible.
‘I urge all residents not to be complacent about Hurricane Dean,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘Take it seriously. Prepare for the worst case scenario.’
Cayman has learned a lot of lessons from Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 and this knowledge should come in handy now, he noted.
The National Hurricane Committee recommends that if residents have not completed their preparations, they should do so today and tomorrow, he stressed.
Minister McLean said: ‘I implore every resident to prepare for the hurricane. Take no chances. Don’t second guess. This is what many of us did in Hurricane Ivan and we paid a price. This is a serious hurricane and the country needs to go into preparatory mode now.’
The ministers also advised that Members of the Legislative Assembly would be working with their constituents by this evening to get required supplies to those who need them to prepare for the dangerous storm that is barrelling towards Cayman.
Mr. Tibbetts also announced that all civil servants were paid August pay cheques today to facilitate their securing supplies, and preparing their homes and families for the hurricane.
Mr. Tibbetts, who has responsibility for District Administration, said he had met two weeks ago and spoken this morning to Sister Islands’ authorities and learnt that preparations were in full gear.
Replying to a question about possible price gouging, Mr. Tibbetts pointed to the law that was passed following Hurricane Ivan and of which local businesses were aware. The law would be enforced, he said.
Asked about RCIP’s readiness to deal with the storm and its aftermath, the Leader of Government Business said this had been discussed at length on several occasions and the RCIP has a contingency plan in place.
He also said he had held discussions with both the gasoline companies regarding fuel supply, and contingency plans for both Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands. Generators had been placed in several gas stations to deal with sale of fuel at the pumps in the aftermath of the storm.