Tropical Storm Isaac heading northwest

Tropical storm watch in effect for Cayman from 10pm Friday

4pm Saturday: Issac picked up some speed, but not any power as it trundled along Cuba’s northern coastline Saturday.  

The tropical storm was going northwest at 21 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour at 4pm local time. It was located about 270 miles south, southeast of Nassau, Bahamas at that time.  

The storm is still believed to be no threat to Cayman, but it was expected to bring some heavy rains – particularly to the Sister Islands Saturday through early Sunday.  

 10am Saturday: Tropical Storm Issac was approaching the eastern tip of Cuba late Saturday morning, after weakening a bit from striking land in southwestern Haiti overnight.  

By 10am local time the storm was still heading northwest at a brisk 17 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour, making it a medium-strength tropical storm.  

The forecast path of the storm, according to the National Hurricane Centre in Miami was taking it along Cuba’s northern and eastern coasts over the weekend. By late Sunday or early Monday Issac was expected to strengthen into a hurricane and pass close by Miami before heading into the Gulf of Mexico.  

The forecast path, while not good news for south Florida or the eastern US gulf coast, took the storm a bit further away from the Cayman Islands than was expected earlier in the week.  

Earlier story: Tropical Storm Isaac finally turned northwest on Friday afternoon, appearing to head in a direction that would spare the Cayman Islands the brunt of the storm.

As of 10pm local time Friday, Isaac was situated just south of Haiti, heading northwest at 14 mph. The cyclone had grown to near hurricane strength with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

Even though the storm was heading toward the east coast of Cuba, and well to the northeast of Cayman Islands, Isaac is expected to impact the weather of all three islands on Saturday. A tropical storm watch will go into effect for the Cayman Islands from 10pm Friday night.

The Cayman Islands National Weather Service said Isaac is expected to bring gusty winds and between three and four inches of rain to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman between 7am Saturday and 7am Sunday. Grand Cayman is only forecast to receive about a half-inch of rain during the same time period. Flooding in low-lying areas is possible.

Seas will be rough with wave heights of 4 to 6 feet and a small craft warning is in effect for Saturday.

After traversing Cuba, Isaac his expected to enter the Florida Straits and then Gulf of Mexico, however some forecast models take the storm further east, potentially impacting the Miami area. The National Hurricane Center in Miami’s official track has Isaac making one landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday and then another one on the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday as a Category 1 hurricane.

Isaac didn’t appear it would strengthen into a hurricane before making its first landfall late Friday night in Haiti, where hundreds of thousands of people still live in tent-like structures in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake there. However, Isaac was still expected to bring tropical storm force winds to Haiti, along with 8 to 12 inches of rain, leading to life-threatening flooding and mudslides.

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).