Hurricane Dean has maintained its intensity and forward speed overnight and is still projected to pass slightly to the south of the Cayman Islands late tonight or early tomorrow.
The NHC this morning noted the more favourable situation but cautioned that hurricane systems are variable and unpredictable and urged everyone to continue to monitor closely this potentially dangerous situation.
‘We are far from being out of the woods and are still particularly vulnerable to high winds, storm surge and battering waves and we can ill afford to let down our guard,’ said NHC Chairman Donovan Ebanks.
Given current forecasts, Grand Cayman can expect tropical storm force winds overnight tonight and it is expected to continue until late Monday. According to current forecasts, Cayman Brac can expect tropical storm force winds starting very early Monday, with abatement around mid-day. Little Cayman can expect highest gusts a little earlier than Cayman Brac and ending a little later. Tropical storm force winds are between 39 mph and 74 mph.
Wave action on Grand Cayman is expected to affect all coastal areas, but especially along the south coast and the West Bay peninsula. Waves in these areas, if the current projections hold, can be as high as 16 to 20 ft. Rainfall is expected to be about four to six inches, with possibly much more to follow after the system passes.
Senior Meteorological Manager Fred Sambula cautioned that ‘there can be an explosion in intensity,’ and that fact, coupled with Dean’s characteristic ‘wobbling,’ means that we cannot there is no room for complacency. He did say that an anticipated high pressure area over the US may assist in pushing the system more to the south of the Cayman Islands, but that it could not be predicted when that would occur.
Governor Stuart Jack, who returned home yesterday, attended this morning’s meeting. At the end of the meeting, the Governor joined the chairman in thanking civil servants and representatives of non-government agencies. The Governor said: ‘Since I got back yesterday I have been really impressed about the work that has gone on,’ adding his appreciation for the efforts of all involved.
NHC subcommittee arrangements are continuing. Persons at the Pines were being transferred to a shelter this morning, with shelters opening 1 pm. Efforts to evacuate visitors continue. All persons wishing to be evacuated from Little Cayman have now been relocated, with only some 15 persons electing to remain. Cayman Airways will continue its shuttles until later afternoon, given current projections. Some 1,500 of the some 2,500 visitors remaining are still to be evacuated.