Tropical Storm warning discontinued for Sister Islands

For the latest information on storm activity in the Cayman Islands, as well as information on how to prepare for hurricane season, visit Storm Centre.

Update: 4:30pm, 24 Aug: The National Weather Service has discontinued its tropical storm warning for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman after Tropical Storm Laura continues to move northwest of the Cayman area.

The NWS, in its latest bulletin, said that at 4pm Tropical Storm Laura was located near about 207 miles north-northwest of Cayman Brac and 175 miles north-northwest of Grand Cayman. The storm is moving towards the west-northwest near 20 mph with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.

It said the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, suggests that Tropical Storm Laura will continue on its present track with wind direction expected to be southeasterly 15 to 20 knots.

Higher gusts are also likely in and around heavy showers.

Wave heights of 4 to 6 feet are expected to continue on the Sister Islands.

Waves lashed Hog Sty Bay in George Town Monday.

However, Acting Port Director Joseph Woods told the Cayman Compass his team was prepared for the rough weather and they continued operations as normal.

“We are doing good. We started prepping from last week. We completed two cargo ships last night into the early hours of this morning and then completed our final preps. Our offices and warehouse at Portland Road are all open so there are no interruptions to our business,” Woods said.

Acting Hazard Management Cayman Islands Director Teresita DaSilva said the National Emergency Operations Centre did not have to be activated as Tropical Storm Laura did not pose a significant threat to the Sister Islands.

“While it did not require the NEOC to be activated, HMCI remain on standby in the event that some assistance is needed. HMCI maintains constant communication with all relevant stakeholders, while monitoring the weather system and continues to disseminate preparedness information across our social media channels,” DaSilva told the Cayman Compass via email.

She also added that at this time the response to Tropical Storm Laura does not exceed the resources or capabilities of the Sister Islands and therefore assistance from the Cayman Islands Regiment is not necessary.

Over on Cayman Brac, resident Bonnie Scott said Tropical Storm Laura was a “myth storm” as the weather was not as bad as expected.

However, she said the waves and winds did start to increase mid-afternoon.

“The rain stopped for a bit so I went out to look at the ocean and I saw the ocean totally flat, not a wave anywhere. The palm trees were just flacid, no wind, no sea, and suddenly the wind shifted and the trees started to blow and big waves started to form and came crashing in… very interesting,” she told the Compass.

Scott, adding that she felt just like US weather forecaster Jim Cantore, giving the Compass her report on what she is seeing with the storm, said, “I think he [Cantore] would be too embarrassed to come to a storm this mild. I am very thankful that it is mild and I would take this any day over one of the ones that we’ve had in the past.”

Deputy District Commissioner of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman Mark Tibbetts, in a audio statement Monday afternoon, said, the sister islands fared well during the passage of the tropical storm and there were no reports of major damage.

He said throughout the day Cayman Brac had been experiencing some on and off rain squalls bringing with it some gusty winds at times.

“In fact, we’ve had reports that has been confirmed that we actually experienced a tropical storm force winds a couple of times during those squalls today. But all in all, we have fared extremely well throughout the islands… not much reports as far as any major flooding. We do have a few of our drain wells that have been backed up by public works department. We’ll be dealing with those before the end of the day,” he said.

He added that throughout the island there were a couple of trees downed and there were some tree limbs and other debris across the roads.

“But again, no major damage whatsoever in the sister islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, so we most thankful for that,” he said.

Update: 10:40am, 24 Aug: Tropical Storm Laura is dumping rain and sending sea surges along the coast of Cuba as it moves toward the west-northwest near 20 mph on Monday.

According to reports out of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, rains and high winds are being experienced as the weather system passes the islands.

Sister Islands Deputy District Commissioner Mark Tibbetts, in an audio message Monday morning, said Cayman Brac and Little Cayman have “fared well” overnight and today thus far.

However, he warned, “There’s still weather to our south and east from Tropical Storm Laura. So we just want to ensure that everyone is reminded they’re still under a tropical storm warning here on the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. We anticipate that we will not get an all clear until early afternoon,” Tibbetts said.

The National Weather Service, in a bulletin issued this morning, said at 10am Tropical Storm Laura was located about 115 miles north-northwest of Cayman Brac and 142 miles north-northeast of Grand Cayman.

Government is maintaining its tropical storm warning for the Sister Islands.

The latest forecast issued by the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, suggests that Tropical Storm Laura will continue on its present track, and on this projection, the threat of storm force winds affecting the Sister Islands will cease by this afternoon.

“Wind direction is expected to be from the south-southwest near 25 to 30 knots, becoming southeasterly 15 to 20 knots by this evening. Higher gusts nearing 35 knots are likely especially through this afternoon. Moderate to locally heavy showers are expected through this evening as Tropical Storm Laura moves along the south coast of Cuba,” it said.

Rainfall accumulation estimates between 2 to 4 inches, with a localised maximum of 6 inches of rainfall, could occur over the Sister Islands during the next 24 hours and flooding in low lying areas is likely.

Related: Laura douses Cayman with heavy rain, strong wind
Residents in these areas should take the necessary precautions, the National Weather Service said.

Sea conditions near the Sister Islands are expected to be rough, with wave heights of 6 to 8 feet today, and subsiding with wave heights of 4 to 6 feet by tonight.

“All marine interests over the Sister Islands should seek safe harbour and remain there until at least tomorrow morning,” the NWS said.

Meanwhile, conditions in Grand Cayman are expected to be bit “more subdued”, with Tropical Storm Laura passing about 142 miles north-northeast of Grand Cayman, the NWS bulletin said.

The wind direction is expected to be the southwesterly at 15 to 20 knots, becoming southerly 15 to 20 knots by evening and southeasterly 10 to 15 knots later tonight. Higher gusts are likely in and around heavy showers.

Rainfall estimates for Grand Cayman suggest accumulations of 1 to 3 inches are likely through tomorrow morning. Showers may be locally heavy at times. Seas around Grand Cayman are expected to be rough with wave heights of 4 to 6 feet.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami, in its latest advisory, said the storm’s west-northwest general motion will continue with some decrease in forward speed is expected over the next day or so.

“A turn toward the northwest is forecast by Wednesday, and a northwestward to north-northwestward motion should continued through Wednesday night. On the forecast track, the centre of Laura will move over the Caribbean Sea just offshore of the southern coast of Cuba this afternoon, cross western Cuba this evening, and move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico overnight,” it said.

Laura is then forecast to move over the central and northwestern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night and Wednesday, and approach the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday night.

It is still expected to be upgraded to a hurricane by Tuesday.

“Strengthening is expected when the storm moves over the Gulf of Mexico, and Laura is forecast to become a hurricane on Tuesday, with additional strengthening forecast on Wednesday,” the NHC said.

Cuba has discontinued the Tropical Storm Warning for the provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, and Granma.

The NHC has increased its projections on rainfall, advising that Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands can expect to see four to six inches of rain, with maximum amounts of 10 inches.

“Across the Greater Antilles, this heavy rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash and urban flooding, and the potential for mudslides. From Wednesday afternoon into Friday, Laura is expected to produce rainfall of 4 to 8 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches across portions of the west-central U.S. Gulf Coast near the Texas and Louisiana border north into portions of the lower Mississippi Valley. This rainfall could cause widespread flash and urban flooding, small streams to overflow their banks, and minor to isolated moderate river flooding,” the NHC forecast said.

Original story: Tropical Storm Laura is forecast to strengthen to a hurricane by Tuesday, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are currently under tropical storm warning after the weather system shifted slightly to the south Sunday.

Heavy rain has started on the Brac and there were reports of power outages across the island.

Brac Power and Light Company General Manager Jonathan Tibbetts said half the island lost power temporarily with the heavy winds and rain this morning. However, he said, power had been restored.

On Grand Cayman, the Tourism Attraction Board this morning announced the closure of the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and the Pedro St James National Historic Site due to inclement weather and low level flooding in some areas.

The national attractions are set to reopen Tuesday.

Both National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and air force reconnaissance aircraft found Tropical Storm Laura moving west-northwestward just south of the coast of central Cuba.

“Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts. Gradual strengthening is expected, and Laura is forecast to become a hurricane by early Tuesday. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km) from the center,” the NHC reported in its 8am advisory.

According to media reports, Laura has caused the deaths of at least 11 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti where it knocked out power and caused flooding.

On Monday morning, the centre of Tropical Storm Laura was located near latitude 20.9 North, longitude 79.7 West. The storm is moving toward the west-northwest at almost 21 mph, and this general motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected over the next couple of days, the NHC reported.

Layman E Scott Sr. High School, on Cayman Brac, advised parents on Sunday that the school will not open on Monday due to the storm warning. The school had been scheduled to hold orientation activities for Year 7 and Year 12 students. Orientation will be postponed until further notice.

Government offices on the Brac, Sunday night, also posted messages of closures Monday due to the weather.

The tropical storm conditions are expected to spread westward within the warning area in Cuba through Monday.

Forecasters said tropical storm conditions would be experienced in Little Cayman and Cayman Brac Monday. Tropical storm conditions are also expected within the warning area in the middle and lower Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas Monday afternoon and night.

Swells generated by Laura are affecting portions of Hispaniola, eastern Cuba, the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.  These swells are expected to spread across central and western Cuba, the central and northwestern Bahamas, and the Florida Keys on Monday, the NHC said.

The storm is forecast to turn toward the northwest by Wednesday.

“On the forecast track, the center of Laura will move over the Caribbean Sea just offshore the southern coast of Cuba [Monday], and move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by early Tuesday morning. Laura is then forecast to move over the central and northwestern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night and Wednesday,” it said.

Tropical Storm Laura is expected to produce up to four to eight inches of rainfall, with maximum amounts of 12 inches.

The Cayman Islands can expect between two to four inches of rain with maximum amounts of six inches.

For Florida Keys, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Northwest Bahamas one to two inches of rainfall is projected.

Across the Greater Antilles this heavy rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash and urban flooding, and the potential for mudslides.

From late Wednesday into Friday, Laura is expected to produce rainfall of five to 10 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches across portions of the west-central US Gulf Coast near the Texas and Louisiana border north into portions of the lower Mississippi Valley. This rainfall could cause widespread flash and urban flooding, small streams to overflow their banks, and the possibility of some minor river flooding across this region.

An isolated tornado will be possible later Monday into Monday night across the Florida Keys.

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