Weather system a soaker for Cayman

Up to 2.5 inches of rain by midday Wednesday

Drenching rains and moderately high winds were expected to be the worst the Cayman Islands received from a tropical weather disturbance that passed to the south of Grand Cayman Tuesday.

However, that tropical low, identified as 97L by the U.S. National Hurricane Center, appeared likely by press time late Tuesday to strengthen and organize into at least a tropical depression.

Most reliable forecast models had the center of the weather system passing well to the south of Grand Cayman and then heading northwest toward Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula before curving back to the north-east and eventually striking the southeastern U.S. mainland somewhere between the Florida panhandle and eastern Louisiana.

Rains from the outer bands of the system had already started impacting the Cayman Islands on Tuesday and local forecasts called for intermittent showers and thunder through Wednesday, with heavy rain at times and localized flooding.

“Weather models indicate that the Cayman area could receive two to 2.5 inches [of rain] over the next 24 hours leading to the flooding of low-lying areas,” according to the Cayman Islands National Weather Service bulletin released mid-day Tuesday. “Residents are urged to exercise caution and take all necessary precautions.”

Hazard Management Cayman Islands Director McCleary Frederick noted that Cayman residents should expect a lot of rain, potentially up through early Thursday.

“[We] will monitor the situation in regards to potential flooding and the Red Cross and Hazard Management will provide assistance to residents as necessary,” Mr. Frederick said.

Winds were expected to be out of the southeast at 12 to 18 miles per hour with higher gusts through the duration of the system in Cayman. Seas were forecast to have wave heights of up to 4 to 6 feet and a small craft advisory was issued Tuesday. Wave heights were expected to lessen to 3 to 5 feet by Wednesday.

Jamaica had already reported receiving 2.6 inches of rainfall in one day, Monday, due to the same weather system.

All forecasts available Tuesday had 97L moving out of the Cayman Islands area and into the southwestern Gulf of Mexico by Thursday or Friday. None of the reliable U.S. or European storm models were predicting on Tuesday that the system would develop into a named storm within the next 48 hours. The U.S. National Weather Service gave it only a 30 percent chance of doing so by Thursday. If a tropical storm did develop it would be called “Karen,” the 11th named storm of the 2013 Atlantic season.