Residents urged to stay alert as wave approaches and strengthens

POSTED: 08/1/11 1:30 PM

“Watches and warnings could be issued at very short notice”

St. Maarten – Both the Emergency Operations Center and the Meteorological Service of Curacao have urged residents to continue to monitor the approach of a tropical wave/low pressure system that could become a tropical depression or tropical storm between Monday and Tuesday. The National Hurricane Center has reported that the storm has a 90 percent chance of developing and that if it does tropical storm watches and warnings could be issued “at very short notice.”

The Emergency Operations Center issued its first advisory urging residents to monitor the patch of clouds on July 29. On Saturday July 30 the Center was fully activated and the 10 Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) were placed on high alert. The next step is for Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams to call a meeting of the core group of the ESFs to discuss national preparations. The Cabinet of the Governor and the Dutch military – which will assist in manning shelters, cleaning up and providing humanitarian aid – are also monitoring the system.

Weather update

The Meteorological Service stated Sunday that a watch or warning could be issued today. Their second advisory which was released at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday predicts that winds will begin picking up from Monday evening. At that time they’ll shift from blowing in northeasterly direction to blowing in an easterly direction at speeds between 20 and 30 miles per hour. During showers the winds could gust as high as 40 miles per hour. Between Tuesday and Wednesday when the system is expected to pass near the island will beginning shifting from easterly to southeasterly direction with strength of 25 to 35 miles per hour and gusts of up to 50 miles per hour during showers.

Seas will start becoming rough on Monday evening and will continue getting rougher through Wednesday. The weather surface has also forecast that rain and thundershowers will start falling as early as Tuesday morning and last until Wednesday morning. Forecasters expect between 4 to 8 inches of rain during the storm and have issued a caution that low lying areas could get flooded.

“Local authorities and residents are advised to continue monitoring the further progress of this weather system,” the Meteorological Office stated in its advisory.

Forecasters plan to issue their next advisory at 11:00 a.m. after a hurricane hunter aircraft delivers the latest data on the storm’s position. The last report, made on Sunday, was not conclusive, but satellite photos show a system had not formed into a tropical cyclone. The National Hurricane Center is still urging caution because of the amount of rain the storm could bring and because conditions remain favorable (90 percent chance) for a tropical storm to form.

Flights

The first indication that regional flights could be affected also came on Sunday as regional carrier Liat urged customers to monitor its website and the media for updates on flights.

“Liat wishes to inform its customers that it is actively monitoring the tropical weather system presently projected to affect the Eastern Caribbean over the next few days. Liat will seek to maintain normal operations and will provide further information as the situation develops. Passengers are advised to monitor the LIAT website (www.liat.com) and other media for information on this matter,” a release from the airline stated.

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