Twister hits Little Cayman

Damage done, no official confirmation on tornado

LOCALwatersportLEAD2

Robert Hamaty has seen plenty of
tornados in his time as an aviator.

But seeing one on the ground is a
whole new experience for him.

“It was powerful,” Mr. Hamaty said.
“I’ve seen them, of course. But I’ve never actually been close to one like
that.

“I knew immediately what it was
from the power of it and the circulation and the sound.”

What emergency management officials
believed was a small tornado hit the west end of Little
Cayman Sunday evening. 

The severe weather struck around
7pm, coming ashore on the south-west side of Little Cayman. 

Witnesses said gusts from the
twister temporarily lifted parts of the roof off the Light House condos, causing
some ceiling damage. A number of other properties sustained minor damage to
gates and fences.

According to emergency managers in
the Sister Islands, it was believed the tornado was
a waterspout that came onto shore. 

“There was no warning, it was
torrential rainfall and then all of a sudden – boom,” said District Commissioner
Ernie Scott.

One local resident, Jon Hines, said
he spotted three waterspouts off the south-western coast of the small island
shortly before the twister came onto land. However, those three spouts all
stayed at sea, he said.  

Cayman Islands National Weather
Service Director Fred Sambula said, without Doppler radar available, it would
be difficult for officials to determine exactly what hit Little
Cayman Sunday. 

“A thunderstorm cloud moved
into that area (Sunday) evening, causing short bursts of heavy rainfall and
heavy down-drafts of air,” Mr. Sambula said. “What we’d call strong
whirlwinds.” 

Mr. Sambula noted it is the season
for this type of storm activity, generally called micro bursts.

“Out of the blue you get these
sudden spin ups,” he said. “It’s not unusual to have those from
spring to summer.” 

The Caymanian Compass has now
confirmed that all six condos at the Light House complex sustained some level
of damage.

Mr. Hamaty said he’s quite sure it
was a tornado that went by his condo on the south-western most tip of Little Cayman. The condo owner, his wife, and her aunt
were in the condos when the storm struck Sunday.

“Somebody said they saw a
waterspout out at sea,” Mr. Hamaty said. “I went to the back patio to
see what was happening and right at that point the twister passed.” 

“It actually lifted the
roof,” he said. “If the wind has continued blowing it would have
taken it off.” 

“But the damage is repairable.”

He said five of the six condo
complex units were significantly damaged, and some of the patio furniture blew
away. 

“We’re still looking for some
of it,” Mr. Hamaty said. 

No one was injured in Sunday’s
twister. 

LOCALwatersportSTORY

One of several waterspouts that formed off the coast of Little Cayman Sunday. One of the twisters came ashore and caused damage to several homes.
Photo: Jon Hines
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