Track still could impact Cayman Islands
A very large Tropical Storm Isaac entered the Caribbean Sea through the Lesser Antilles Wednesday and was expected to become a hurricane south of Hispaniola on Friday.
The storm is forecast to turn toward Florida by Saturday, passing well northeast of the Cayman Islands. As of Wednesday morning, however, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman were still in the five-day cone of track uncertainty.
In its discussion of the storm on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami noted that there was divergence between the major forecast models and that the European model still showed the storm tracking west between Jamaica and Cuba on its way to turning through the Yucatán Peninsula. If that track were to verify, Cayman’s Sister Islands could be significantly impacted.
Isaac is expected to turn northwest in response to a trough of low pressure that is expected to enter the United States from Canada. However, if that trough doesn’t come as soon or as far south as expected, or if Isaac doesn’t intensify as quickly as the National Hurricane Center forecasts, the storm could end up going farther west before it turns.
Regardless of its exact path, the weather system associated with Isaac spanned more than 800 miles and it will likely impact the weather of all three Cayman Islands over the weekend. Even based on the official track of Isaac heading toward southern Florida, the Cayman Islands National Weather Service was calling for rainy and gusty conditions Saturday and Sunday, with showers that could be heavy enough to cause flooding in low-lying areas on Sunday. Rough seas of four to six feet on Saturday and five to seven feet on Sunday were forecast and a small craft warning will be in effect for both days.
Even though Isaac was not a particularly strong tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of only 45 mph as it approached the Lesser Antilles, many Caribbean islands closed schools and government offices Wednesday. In Puerto Rico, Governor Luis Fortuno also declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard.
Many flights to and from Caribbean islands were cancelled, something that is likely to impact the Cayman Islands this weekend.
Looking ahead, Isaac could be particularly dangerous to Haiti, where some 400,000 still live in make-shift housing as a result of the 2010 earthquake. Isaac could also threaten next week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Atlantic hurricanes beginning with the letter ‘I’ have been notoriously bad over the past decade. Since 2004, four hurricanes starting with the letter ‘I’ have had their names retired because of the deaths, damage and destruction they caused, starting with Hurricane Ivan, which caused massive damage to Grand Cayman, Grenada and the United States in 2004. Other bad ‘I’ hurricanes since then have included Hurricanes Ike (2008), Igor (2008) and Irene (2011).
Tropical Storm Isaac was not the only tropical cyclone in the Atlantic Basin on Wednesday morning. The National Hurricane Center upgraded Invest 96L to Tropical Depression Ten in its 11am EDT update. That storm, which was expected to become Tropical Storm Joyce, is forecast to trek well to the north and east of the Caribbean Sea, potentially only impacting North America or Bermuda.