Cyclone headed to Caribbean

Tropical Depression Five, which formed in the tropical Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday, could come close to the Cayman Islands by next Tuesday morning. As of midday Thursday, the tropical cyclone was disorganised but was still supporting sustained winds of 35 miles per hour. The storm was struggling to survive in the face of vertical wind sheer, but conditions are expected to become more conducive for some strengthening by Friday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami stated. Meteorologist Andrew Mussoline said Tropical Depression Five could become Tropical Storm Ernesto by early Friday when it enters the Caribbean Sea through the Windward Islands and that it could strengthen after that. 

“Strong wind shear, an inhibitor of tropical development, will limit the potential for rapid strengthening over the next couple of days,” he said. “However, the wind shear is expected to weaken during the weekend, where the opportunity for further strengthening is possible.” 

Once in the Caribbean, the storm is expected to track westward through Sunday, but to then turn west-northwest after that. On the current forecast track, the centre of the storm would pass 50 miles or so south of Grand Cayman sometime Tuesday morning as a strong Tropical Storm Ernesto. However, forecast models differ for both track and intensity, with some showing the storm coming much closer to Grand Cayman.  

The five-day forecast from the Cayman Islands National Weather Service shows Grand Cayman’s weather being affected by the storm system by Monday, with winds picking up to 15 to 20 knots out of the east-northeast and rough seas of four to six feet. A small craft warning will be in effect from Monday. 

Should the storm survive its trek across the Caribbean, it could become much more of a threat to the United States Gulf Coast. If the cyclone turns northwest as expected, it could pass through the Yucatan Channel into the Gulf of Mexico, where it would find conditions ripe for strengthening.  

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