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.

Tropical Depression 31 has formed in the central Caribbean and is expected to strengthen into a hurricane before approaching a Central American region still reeling from Hurricane Eta.

The area of thunderstorms south of Hispaniola that forecasters have been monitoring this week developed into a tropical depression Friday morning.

The system was located 310 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, as of 10am Friday. It’s moving west-southwest at seven miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, according to the US-based National Hurricane Center.

Tropical Depression 31 forms in the Caribbean.

Moderate winds and slight seas are expected over the Cayman Islands as the tropical depression slowly moves over the western Caribbean, according to the Cayman Islands National Weather Service. Cayman can expect partly cloudy skies with a 30% chance of showers on Saturday, according to the NWS. Winds will be east to northeast at 11 to 17 mph during the day and 17 to 23 mph by evening. Seas will be slight to moderate with wave heights of 2 to 4 feet. Similar weather, with a gradual increase in wind speeds and wave heights, is expected from Saturday evening, the NWS said.

There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect, although the NHC advises people in Nicaragua and Honduras to monitor the storm’s progress. A hurricane watch may be required for a portion of that area as early as Friday night, according to the NHC.

A westward to west-northwestward motion at a slightly faster forward speed is expected to begin by late Saturday, the NHC said.

“On the forecast track, the system will move across the central Caribbean Sea during the next day or so, and approach the coasts of Nicaragua and northeastern Honduras
late Sunday and Monday,” according to the NHC advisory.

The depression is forecast to strengthen into a tropical storm on Friday and additional strengthening is likely over the weekend, and the system could be near major hurricane strength when it approaches Central America, according to the NHC.

“Given the current broad and sprawling structure of the system, strengthening may begin as gradual today, but once an inner core organizes, steady-to-rapid strengthening
appears likely,” the NHC said.

Tropical Depression 31 is expected to drop between 4 and 8 inches of rain across portions of northern Columbia, Panama and Costa Rica, which some ares expected to receive as much as 12 inches.

Across Jamaica and Haiti, 2 to 4 inches of rain are expected, with local amounts up to 6 inches.

“Across remaining sections of Central America, the system has the potential to produce 20 to 30 inches of rain with a focus across northern Nicaragua and Honduras. This rainfall would lead to significant, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain,” the NHC said.

The Central American countries of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize were hit hard by Eta, which barraged the Nicaraguan coast last week as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm is believed to have killed several dozen people, while hundreds of others are still missing and tens of thousands displaced.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now