As the 14th anniversary of Hurricane Ivan arrives, Cayman and its Caribbean neighbors are eying three hurricanes – Florence, Isaac and Helene – that are moving through the Atlantic.
In Cayman, a deluge of rains throughout Sunday and Monday sent a reminder to residents that the peak of storm season is under way.
The Cayman Islands National Weather Service estimated that 3.4 inches of rain fell on Grand Cayman over a 24-hour period, starting midday Sunday. Forecaster Allan Ebanks said another inch of rain was expected to fall through the rest of the day Monday.
A mid-morning squall led to the Jolly Roger pirate ship slipping its mooring in the George Town harbor and running aground on a sandbank (see page 7). The squall also resulted in some flooding on land and a power outage in Bodden Town.
A low-pressure trough, located west of the islands, began forming over the weekend and brought widespread showers and thunderstorms to much of the northwestern Caribbean Sea.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center placed the system on a slow northwestward trajectory toward the Yucatan Peninsula and advised residents of the Gulf Coast to monitor the progress of the storm.
The system was forecast at a 50 percent chance of cyclone formation over the next five days, as it moves away from the Cayman Islands and toward Texas and Louisiana.
“Upper-level winds are forecast to become more conducive for development on Wednesday when the system moves over the southern Gulf of Mexico, and a tropical depression could form on Thursday or Friday while the disturbance moves across the western Gulf of Mexico,” according to an update from the National Hurricane Center said Monday. “Regardless of development, heavy rainfall and gusty winds are likely over western Cuba through Tuesday.”
The rains brought disruptions across Grand Cayman on Monday.
Shortly after noon, the Bodden Town Police Station reported a power outage, affecting phone service, due to a lightning storm.
More than 1,000 CUC customers in Bodden Town also were affected by the outage.
The Cayman Islands Humane Society reported flooding around midday, forcing the shelter to seek emergency accommodation for more than 50 animals.
One Humane Society worker said the situation was urgent and that flooding had affected much of the facility on North Sound Road, including the cat room. Shelter workers advised the public to contact them by cellphone at 326-1461, in case of a disruption in landline service.
Although the National Weather Service expected the low-pressure trough to move on from Cayman by Tuesday, forecasters were keeping their eyes on several other tropical systems, in particular, Hurricane Isaac.
Of the three active hurricanes in Atlantic waters Monday, Isaac showed the greatest likelihood of impacting the Caribbean.
Hurricane Florence was expected to make landfall between North and South Carolina as a major hurricane sometime Thursday or Friday. Residents along the U.S. East Coast began preparing for the worst.
“Florence could slow or stall on or near shore, scooping up massive amounts of seawater. Some forecasting models show it could unload a foot or two of rain in places, causing devastating inland flooding,” according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Helene was expected to curve back east into the Atlantic and did not pose an immediate threat to land.
Mapping of Isaac, however, showed the storm landing as a Category 1 hurricane in the Lesser Antilles, where local media in Dominica, Martinique and St. Lucia were already encouraging residents to prepare, although no storm warnings had been issued as of Monday afternoon.
“A westward motion with a slight increase in forward speed is expected through the end of the week. On the forecast track, Isaac should move across the Lesser Antilles and into the eastern Caribbean Sea on Thursday,” the National Hurricane Center said.
Maximum sustained winds as of Monday afternoon were near 75 miles per hour with higher gusts. Once Isaac reaches the Lesser Antilles, it is expected to weaken to a tropical storm.