Tropical storm watch issued

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.

hurricane ike

Hurricane Ike’s position Saturday afternoon.
Image: Accuweather

Based on the National Hurricane Center’s official forecast track Sunday afternoon, none of the three Cayman Islands were still 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.’

The track expected by the National Hurricane Center as of 1pm Sunday would take the centre of Ike 153 miles of Cayman Brac at about 5pm on Monday. Tropical storm force winds extended 145 miles outward from Ike’s centre on Sunday afternoon.

Ike’s projected path would make its closest point of approach to Grand Cayman about 221 miles late Monday evening.

Ike is an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 135mph. The storm was expected to strengthen before making landfall in eastern Cuba late Sunday or early Monday morning. After landfall in Cuba, Ike is expected to weaken, but could become a major hurricane again once it re-emerges in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Cayman Islands National Weather Service forecast calls for winds to pick up from early Monday, coming out of the north-northwest at 15-20 knots (17-23 mph). Grand Cayman can expect rough seas of five to seven feet along the north and west coast from Monday morning, which includes the Seven Mile Beach area.

As of 1pm Sunday, Ike was moving due west at 13mph. The storm is expected to turn to the west-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 a risk of tropical storm force winds.’

One major computer model still had the storm passing a good bit south of the official forecast track, but still considerably north of the Sister Islands.

When it is closest, Grand Cayman can 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. Winds an wave heights are expected to be higher in the Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

The rough seas and windy conditions aren’t expected to abate until Thursday afternoon.

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. 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.