Olga should weaken

Tropical Storm Olga will likely weaken to a remnant low when it passes near the Cayman Islands on Thursday.

River Haina in Santo Domingo

People stand under the rain caused by the tropical Storm Olga at the river Haina in Santo Domingo Tuesday. Olga strengthened and became a tropical storm as it drenched the Dominican Republic, forcing the evacuation of low-lying communities ahead of the rare December cyclone. Photo: AP

Cayman’s Head of Meteorological Services Fred Sambula spoke about the storm, which formed after the Atlantic basin hurricane season ended on 30 November.

‘Olga is an unusual and rare occurrence, although it is not unknown for tropical storms to develop in December,’ he said.

Olga transitioned from a subtropical storm to a tropical storm on Tuesday evening as deep convection formed near its centre. However, at the same time, the system was interacting with land.

‘Olga has taken a beating over night,’ Mr. Sambula said Wednesday morning. ‘As it crossed the island of Hispaniola, it weakened considerably.’

By Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported that Olga lacked both the convection and the closed circulation required of a tropical cyclone.

‘It will be very difficult for Olga to regenerate into anything substantive by the time it reaches us,’ Mr. Sambula said.

In addition to its interaction with land, Olga faced strong wind shear when it reached the western Caribbean, which would hinder its chances of re-strengthening.

Nevertheless, on its current projected path, Olga will pass between Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac sometime Thursday morning and it will bring some adverse weather to our area.

‘Starting from late morning to early afternoon, we should start seeing more rain,’ Mr. Sambula said, adding that forecast calls for an inch or two of rainfall through Friday.

Rain showers actually started on Tuesday evening as moisture pushed ahead by Olga reached the Cayman Islands, and continued on Wednesday morning.

Olga’s status when it passes closest to the Cayman Islands will determine the wind conditions. If it passes as a remnant low – meaning the system no longer has a closed circulation – as expected, Mr. Sambula said the winds will probably only be 15 to 20 miles per hour, with gusts possibly up to 30 miles per hour.

However, if Olga were to pass the Cayman Islands as a tropical depression with a closed circulation, it could bring sustained winds between 30 and 39 miles per hour, Mr. Sambula said.

Sea swells were already starting to roll in to Cayman on Wednesday morning and Mr. Sambula said a small craft warning would likely be issued later in the day.

National Hurricane Committee Chairman Donovan Ebanks said there were no plans for the committee to meet to discuss Olga.

‘We’re watching it, but we’re not going to get excited about it,’ he said.

Olga caused the death of four people from flooding and mudslides as it passed Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Although Olga will likely dissipate by Friday, at least one computer model shows it regenerating on Friday and threatening Honduras as a Category 1 hurricane.