Dolly brings flooding

Tropical Storm Dolly brought wet and gusty weather and isolated rainwater flooding to Grand Cayman Sunday.


Heavy rains on Sunday flooded homes off Cumer Avenue in Bodden Town and had some residents using sand bags to stop the water from entering their homes. Heavy gusts of wind also downed trees and turned over unsecured items in the area.
Photo: Jewel Levy

The storm system, which had been called Invest 94L for almost a week, was not classified as a tropical cyclone until after it had already passed to the west of Grand Cayman on Sunday morning.

However, the sprawling system was large enough to bring nasty weather to the Cayman Islands.

Meteorological Services Acting Senior Manager John Tibbetts explained why a tropical storm warning was never issued for the Cayman Islands.

‘We had a strong tropical wave accompanied by a broad area of low pressure,’ he said, adding that the system did not have a closed surface circulation – which is necessary for tropical cyclone classification – until it had passed about 194 miles south-southwest of Grand Cayman.

The National Weather Service did, however, issue a severe weather warning on Saturday afternoon advising residents in low-lying areas to take precautions and for all marine interests to find safe harbour and remain there until further notice.

Dolly’s sustained winds were measured at about 45 mph on Sunday, but Mr. Tibbetts said those winds remained west of Cayman.

‘What we had here were more of the gusty-type winds,’ he said, noting that some gusts exceeded 29 knots (33 mph). ‘The sustained winds were not particularly strong at 10 to 15 knots, maybe at most 15 to 20 knots.’

Mr. Tibbetts said the storm system brought 4.45 inches of rain to the Met Office at the airport from 7pm Saturday evening until 7am Monday. This rain came just days after George Town received 2.67 inches of rain in six hours last Wednesday.

Homes in low-lying areas in George Town and Bodden Town experienced flooding, resulting in the opening of emergency shelters in Savannah, George Town and West Bay.

Hazard Management Cayman Islands Director Barbara Carby said no one actually occupied any of the shelters.

‘It was largely a precautionary measure,’ she said, adding that the shelters were closed at 10pm Sunday evening.

Ms Carby said Hazard Management Cayman Islands did not issue any sort of Tropical Storm warning based on advice from the National Weather Services.

‘The Met Office said it wasn’t necessary because we were under no threat.’

One of the emergency shelters opened was the Red Cross building in George Town. Cayman Islands Red Cross Director Jondo Obi said when people didn’t come to the shelter, nine Red Cross volunteers started going out to the low-lying areas of Windsor Park, Randyke Gardens and The Swamp to make assessments.

‘They helped lots of homes,’ Mrs. Obi said, adding that the volunteers took sandbags to help prevent water from entering homes.

One home, that of James Bodden and his wife Patricia in Randyke Gardens, was flooded for the second time in a week. The Boddens had one-inch of pooling rainwater come into their home after Wednesday’s rain and then another two to three inches enter on Sunday. Even though the water was removed with the help of Red Cross volunteers on Sunday, it was a short fix.

‘It’s back in again today,’ he said Monday morning. ‘It’s coming from under the house through the tiles.’

Mr. Bodden noted that Randyke Gardens has been subject to flooding for 20 years but that it has gotten worse over time because of the construction of the Linford Pierson Highway and some condominiums nearby.

‘It’s a bad situation up in there, I’ll tell you that,’ he said. ‘We need to get some pipes or deep wells or something in there.’

Mr. Bodden and his wife celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary Sunday.

‘What a way to spend our anniversary… underwater.’

Weather Underground website blogger Jeff Masters made some observations about the unusually early and active Atlantic Basin hurricane season in his posting yesterday.

‘July 19, 2008, marked the first time on record that three July tropical storms were active on the same day in the Atlantic,’ he noted. ‘July 2008 already ranks 5th all-time for number of July named storms [three]….

Hurricane Bertha, which finally became extratropical in the chilly waters of the North Atlantic on Sunday, was the longest lived July hurricane on record and the longest lived July named storm on record. Bertha was a hurricane for 7.75 days and a named storm for 17.25 days.

Bertha was also the fourth longest-lived named storm since 1950 to have formed in any month and farthest east-forming tropical storm and hurricane for so early in the season.

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