Weeklong rain expected to ease

The low pressure system that has become Subtropical Storm Alberto dropped more than 8 inches of rain on Grand Cayman during the past week.

From May 21 to the morning of May 28, monitors recorded 8.4 inches of rainfall, 4 inches of which came down in a single day, the 21st.

Relief, however, is on the way, said meteorologist Avalon Porter, with the Cayman Islands National Weather Service. Mr. Porter said rain showers should taper off on Tuesday, with some high clouds hanging on through Wednesday.

After that, he said, “We’ll be back to our typical, partly cloudy and isolated showers.”

Winds, he said, will calm by the end of the week.

Mr. Porter said the amount of rain is unusual for May. The month’s rainfall is normally about 6 inches. Persistent rain on Monday would have added to the 8.4 inches already recorded during the previous week.

The center of Alberto hit the Florida Panhandle on Monday, where it was expected to move slowly inland, dumping enough rain to cause flooding. Its winds were high enough on the fringes to generate tornado warnings.

Cayman roads saw plenty of high water and flooding in the usual areas. Legislative Assembly member Alva Suckoo said he and his colleagues were taking the opportunity to address some enduring drainage problems.

“There are some areas that are really low lying and prone to flooding,” said the Savannah-area representative. “I’ve done an assessment and put in a request for drains to be put in.”

National Roads Authority workers began installing drains on Moonbeam Drive on Monday, he said. Democracy Drive and some other streets are on the list for similar treatment. Other areas of the island are getting attention as well.

Mr. Suckoo said a change in the way money is appropriated is making the difference in addressing some long-standing, standing water problems.

“This is a new approach, where the district representatives have been included directly in the decision making,” he said. “I’m grateful I’ve been consulted.”

Each district, he said, was given a budget for street projects and assembly members have a large role in deciding how the money is spent.

Tapering rain on Tuesday should allow pooled water to recede in Cayman. Those living in Florida will likely be dealing with the problem for some days to come.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 2 p.m. EDT Monday that Alberto was weakening slightly as it approached the Florida Panhandle and was centered about 30 miles south of Panama City, Florida. It had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and was moving north at 8 mph.

Forecasters warned of life-threatening surf conditions, the possibility of a few brief tornadoes in much of Florida and parts of Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. And, it said, heavy rains are also expected in many areas.

Once Alberto is inland, and deprived of the warm waters that fuel tropical weather systems, the storm was expected to steadily weaken.

The hurricane center said a tropical storm warning was in effect from the Suwannee River in Florida to the Alabama-Florida state line.

Mark Bowen, the Bay County Emergency management director, said Alberto’s biggest threat would be its heavy rains, with forecasts of anywhere from four to 12 inches of rain in some areas. Storm surge flooding was less of a concern because Alberto’s arrival would not coincide with high tide, he said.

The storm’s approach triggered mandatory evacuations of some small, sparsely populated Gulf Coast barrier islands in one Florida county. The Florida Division of Emergency Management said in a statement Sunday that a mandatory evacuation has been issued in Franklin County for all barrier islands there and those in the county living directly on the coast in mobile homes or in recreation vehicle parks.

In Taylor County, there were voluntary evacuations for those in coastal zones and beach communities, mobile homes, RV parks and low-lying areas. In Gulf County, T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park began evacuations Sunday morning.

In northwestern Cuba, 5,000 people were evacuated from Villa Clara, Cienfuegos and Sancti Spíritus over the weekend, amid heavy rains and flooding, according to reporting by 14ymedio.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a hurricane season forecast Thursday that calls for 10 to 16 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes. One to four hurricanes could be “major,” with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

If that forecast holds, it would make for a near-normal or above-normal season. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.


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