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Weather forecasters at the US National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, say they expect Tropical Storm Gonzalo to become a category one hurricane, possibly as soon as tomorrow (Thursday). If it does, it would become the first hurricane for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
Information published on the centre’s website shortly after 2pm today placed Gonzalo in the Atlantic Ocean a little more than 1,100 east of the southern Windward Islands in the eastern Caribbean. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 50mph, some 25 miles below a category one hurricane.
It is moving towards the west at 14mph, forecasters said.
Cayman’s National Weather Service has also been monitoring Gonzalo’s progress. Chief Meteorologist Kerry Powery said, at this stage, the tropical storm poses no immediate threat to Cayman, and it is still too early to tell if it will.
“It’s a rather compacted system, and so a lot of environmental factors could either suppress it or strengthen it,” said Powery.
A projected storm path, which was generated by the National Hurricane Centre, places Gonzalo southeast of Jamaica by Sunday morning. Powery said if it continues to follow that path, the local weather service will be in a better position to determine whether the storm will move in Cayman’s direction.
Hurricane Paloma was the last storm to make landfall in Cayman. In September 2008, that hurricane travelled directly over Cayman Brac, leaving widespread destruction in its wake. It has been 12 years since Cayman has been struck by a hurricane. Powery said people should use this opportunity to make whatever preparations for the remainder of the hurricane season.
“These types of storms place the active season into focus,” said Powery. “Members of the public should use what time they have now to prepare themselves, if they haven’t already, for the rest of the season.”
Forecasters at the Colorado State University have predicted that the Atlantic hurricane season will be an above-average one. Their predictions are adopted by Cayman’s National Weather Services each year. The latest forecast is for 20 named storms, including nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes.
The first named storm of the season was Tropical Storm Arthur which developed in May. May also saw the development of Tropical Storm Bertha. In June, tropical storms Cristobal and Dolly developed, and since July, tropical storms Edouard, Fay and now Gonzalo formed.