Ike poses threat

Hazard Management Cayman Islands placed the country under a tropical storm watch early Sunday morning in response to the possible threat posed by Hurricane Ike.

Based on the National Hurricane Center’s official predicted track Sunday morning, none of the three Cayman Islands were in cone of possibility for the centre of Ike’s path.

‘This simply means that the islands are currently not expected to experience a direct hit by Hurricane Ike,’ Hazard Management said in a press release Sunday morning. ‘It does not mean that the islands are not expected to be impacted at all. Residents should not take this to mean the system no longer poses a threat to the Cayman Islands.’

Ike was an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 135mph on Sunday morning. The storm was expected to strengthen before making landfall in eastern Cuba late Sunday or early Monday morning.

Cayman Islands National Weather Service Meteorologist Alan Ebanks said Ike would definitely affect the weather here.

‘All three islands are going to get some weather from it,’ he said.

The official local forecast calls for winds to pick up from early Monday, coming out of the north-northwest at 15-20 knots (17-23 mph). This will cause rough seas of five to seven feet along the north and west coasts, which includes the Seven Mile Beach area.

As of Sunday morning, Ike was moving just south of due west at 14mph. The storm is expected to turn to the west-northwest and then the northwest by Monday morning in response to a weakness in a high pressure ridge to the north.

Hazard Management said the system remained a definite risk to all three Cayman Islands.

‘A slightly more westerly or southerly change in the projected path could easily place Cayman Brac and Little Cayman in particular at risk of tropical storm force winds.’

The track expected as of Sunday would take the centre of Ike within 148 miles of Ike at about 4pm on Monday. Tropical storm force winds extended 145 miles outward from Ike’s centre on Sunday morning.

Ike’s projected path would make its closest point of approach to Grand Cayman about 214 miles late Monday evening.

Mr. Ebanks said Grand Cayman could expect maximum sustained winds of 20 to 25 knots (23 -29 mph) out of the southwest, with higher gust associated with the storm. Wave heights are expected to be six to eight feet near Grand Cayman.

‘I think the Sister Islands will experience a little stronger winds and wave heights, probably as high as seven to nine feet,’ he said.

Rainfall is also forecasted to be significant, with the Sister Islands expected to receive three to four inches of rain in the 24-hour period beginning Monday evening, Mr. Ebanks said, adding that Grand Cayman can expect two to three inches of rain in the same time period.

Hazard Management urged all Cayman Islands residents to monitor Ike through the local media and to remain poised to take additional precautionary measures if so advised.