Tropical Storm Gustav continued to bear down on the Cayman Islands Saturday morning, with the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman expected to start experiencing tropical storm force winds from midday.
Cayman Islands National Weather Service Meteorologist Alan Ebanks said Gustav was moving west-northwest at 8mph as of 10am today. However, the storm is expected to turn to the northwest later today.
When the storm actually turns will make a big difference on which of the Cayman Islands takes the brunt of Gustav, which is expected to intensify to at least Category 1 strength before it reaches the area.
If Gustav takes the turn northwest earlier today rather than later as the office forecast track of the National Hurricane Center in Miami predicts, the eye of the storm will pass just south of the Sister Islands.
Mr. Ebanks said people should not become too focused on the forecast track because it could very well change if Gustav does not make it’s turn to the northwest as soon as thought.
“This storm has wobbled a lot already,” Mr. Ebanks said. “One minute it’s been heading in one direction and the next it has wobbled. In fact, most of tracks of storms through the area where it is wobble.”
Regardless of Gustav’s exact path, all of the Cayman Islands will experience tropical storm force winds starting today, said Ebanks. Those winds are forecast to start around noon for the Sister Islands and between 5pm and 7pm for Grand Cayman. The first rain bands from Gustav will likely begin approaching Grand Cayman around 2pm.
If Gustav follows the official forecast track, Ebanks said Grand Cayman would likely not see sustained hurricane force winds.
“But there will probably be gusts up to hurricane force winds,” he said.
Heavy rain is also expected with the storm, with forecast accumulations of three to five inches on all of the Cayman Islands.
Gustav brought heavy rains and windy conditions as it traversed Jamaica Thursday and Friday morning at near hurricane strength. Now back over the very warm waters of the north-western Caribbean Sea, Gustav is predicted to intensify rather rapidly and became at least a major Category 3 hurricane before it reaches western Cuba. Although it is only expected to be a Category 1 hurricane when it passes closest to the Cayman Islands, it will likely be in the process of intensifying and could be stronger.
The storm grew in size considerably on Friday morning, with tropical storm force winds extending 140 miles from centre.