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: 10:15am Grace has strengthened just west of Grand Cayman and is now a Category 1 hurricane, according to data from Hurricane Hunter aircraft.
The hurricane watch has been discontinued for the Cayman Islands, but the tropical storm warning remains in place.
Grace is currently 65 miles west of Grand Cayman and is moving at 15 mph west north west. The Cayman Islands Regiment has been deployed to conduct evacuations in West Bay.
Colonel Simon Watson, commander of the regiment, in a video message Wednesday morning, warned against going outside as the roads “are treacherous” at this time.
“Aircraft data indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 75 mph (120 km/h) with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is forecast before the center of Grace reaches the eastern Yucatan Peninsula. Weakening will occur while the center moves over the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday, with restrengthening expected when Grace moves over the southwest Gulf of Mexico on Friday,” the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 11am EST advisory.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles, it added.
Tropical storm force winds are expected to end by 2pm.
The NHC says the Cayman Islands, portions of the Yucatan Peninsula and Veracruz state in Mexico can expect 4 to 8 inches of rain with isolated maximum totals of 12 inches expected through Friday night.
A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 3 to 5 feet above normal tide levels along the immediate coast near and to the north of where the centre makes landfall in the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula late tonight or early Thursday.
Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.
Update: 18 Aug. 7am Tropical Storm Grace is now 20 miles south west of Grand Cayman and widespread power outages have been reported across the island Wednesday morning as it continues its passage.
The National Hurricane Center, in its latest advisory, said Grace is moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph (26 km/h). A general westward to west-northwestward motion is expected for the next several days.
“On the forecast track, the center of Grace will continue to move near or the Cayman Islands later this morning. Grace is expected to make landfall in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico early Thursday, and move into the southwest Gulf of Mexico early Friday,” the NHC has said.
“Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts. Grace is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane later today, with some additional strengthening possible prior to the center reaching the eastern Yucatan Peninsula. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles (185 km) from the center. Wind gusts to hurricane force have been reported on Grand Cayman,” the NHC said.
It warned that a storm surge could raise water levels as high as 1 to 3 ft above normal tide levels in portions of the Cayman Islands, with higher predicted for the Yucatán Peninsula as Grace approaches there.
“A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 3 to 5 ft above normal tide levels along the immediate coast near and to the north of where the center makes landfall in the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula late tonight or early Thursday. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves,” the NHC said.
According to the Caribbean Utilities Company’s real-time outage viewer, there are up to 97 reports of service interruptions affecting 27,363 customers.
Coast Guard commander Robert Scotland, acting chair of emergency response cluster, in an audio note update earlier Wednesday morning said in the last 24 hours there had been 53 reports, none of which were serious.
He is urging residents to stay indoors as the storm conditions are expected to last for six to eight hours.
The request to stay indoors, he said, is “in order to ensure, not only your safety, but the safety of others, as there may be electrical lines and other hazards which have yet to be cleared”.
Original story: At least 52 power outages have been reported by the Caribbean Utilities Company as of 5:30am Wednesday as Tropical Storm Grace dumped rain and high winds over the Cayman Islands.
The outages, affecting 25,972 CUC customers, had ranged from communities in West Bay to East End.
The storm is now 40 miles south-southeast of Grand Cayman with maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service 4am severe weather bulletin.
“Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles from the center. A reporting station near Rum Point Beach on the north shore of Grand Cayman recently measured a sustained wind of 40 miles per hour and a gust to 47 miles per hour,” the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported Wednesday morning.
Tropical Storm Grace is moving towards the west at 16 mph and is expected to become a hurricane Wednesday night.
Estimated rainfall amount
Wednesday: 3 – 6 inches (max 9 inches)
Thursday: 3 – 6 inches
Estimated wind direction and speed
Wed. morning: Southeast 45 to 50 knots gusting to 60+ knots
Wed afternoon: Southeast 25 to 30 knots
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman:
Wed. morning: Southeast 25 to 35 knots
Wed. afternoon: Southeast 15 to 20 knots
“The latest forecast has Grace becoming a Hurricane further west of Grand Cayman than previously predicted, therefore the threat of Hurricane force winds affecting Grand Cayman has decreased,” the NWS said, adding that a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning are still in effect for the Cayman Islands.
The expected weather conditions for Wednesday include overcast skies with torrential rain and intermittent thunderstorms as Tropical Storm Grace passes to the south of Grand Cayman.
“Showers will be locally heavy at times leading to flooding of low lying areas,” the NWS said.
Grace is moving toward the west near 16 mph.
“A general westward to west-northwestward motion is expected for the next several days. On the forecast track, the center of Grace will continue to move near or over the Cayman Islands later [Wednesday] morning. Grace will approach the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico tonight or early Thursday,” the NHC said.
Wave heights on Wednesday are estimated at 10 to 12 feet, especially along the east and south coast, and 5 to 7 feet on Thursday.
Storm surge could raise water levels as high as 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels in portions of the Cayman Islands.
A marine warning and flood warning are in effect.
The next update from the NHS will be at 10am.