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Flooding Wreaks Havoc in Grand Cayman

Front Pages 10 Jun, 2024 Follow News

Flooding Wreaks Havoc in Grand Cayman

Widespread flooding in Grand Cayman was caused after rains over the weekend and during the morning hours of 10th June.

Flooding across Grand Cayman on 10th June, 2024.

By Stuart Wilson

The past few days (from 7th to 10th June) have seen major rainfall across the Island of Grand Cayman, with flooding reported in low-lying areas, road closures and several flights being rerouted, along with major delays.

The weather system affecting the Cayman Islands is due to a combination of factors. including abundant moisture in the lower levels of the atmosphere interacting with upper-level features, according to Chief Meteorologist at Cayman Islands National Weather Service, Mr. Kerry Powery. He explained that the the rainfall is emerging from moisture being pumped-in from the the Southern Caribbean and noted that the system, “…is not an organized convection but is trying to become organized.”

“There is no outlook for anything further at the moment and though models are saying something could develop further, I am skeptical about it becoming a tropical system,” said Mr. Powery, who spoke exclusively with the Caymanian Times.

He added that the system does have the potential to affect the Golf region of the United States .

“This is the continuation of weather that started over the weekend, more-so in the Sister Islands,” said Mr. Powery. 

According to officials at the Cayman Islands Airport Authority (CIAA) officials, rerouting of flights from Grand Cayman due to the inclement weather included JetBlue from New York, which was diverted to Monteo Bay and American Airlines flights which went back to Miami, Florida and Charlotte, North Carolina, respectively. 

Delta from Atlanta, Georgia was also rerouted from Grand Cayman to Montego Bay, along with Southwest Airlines to Orlando, Florida. 

“It’s going to be a long evening. This system came out of nowhere no one had time to prepare,” noted one CIAA representative, who said more delays were expected.

According to the most recent forecast, the heavy rainfall should pass over Grand Cayman by late evening on 10th June.

Cayman National Weather Service Chief Meteorologist, Mr. Kerry Power outlined the numbers of inches of rainfall Grand Cayman had experienced in a short period of time, which led to flooding and major disruptions.

“It’s been over 5 inches recorded at the airport, 100 millimeters on Sat alone, and on Sunday 42.4 millimeters (1.6 inches). However, since 7am this morning (10th June), the rainfall was 5.5 inches. That’s why we are seeing the flooding with that amount coming down all of a sudden,” said Mr. Powery.

“This weather system is something we expected, though the models have been having a hard time handling it and we did issue some caution about flooding over the weekend,” he added.

“Yesterday’s readings said we should have been out of it but we had the most rainfall during the period since. Conditions should improve from tonight and we are looking to have our regular pattern of isolated showers and partly cloudy skies from this evening going forward,” said the Chief Meteorologist. 

Cayman’s National Weather Service uses Numerical weather predictions that take into account various factors to determine the forecast. These are based on the GFS weather model; a global weather forecast model of the US weather service run at an internal resolution of 28 km. It offers a plethora of parameters for the next 15 days. Updated 4 times a day up to 384 hours ahead.

The Cayman Islands National Weather Service can also preview other models to consider basic parameters and assist them in coming to conclusions.

They are updated every 6 hours and there can be be discrepancies and inconsistencies from model to model. This is taken into account when making the local forecast.

As standing water is an issue, Mr. Powery said drivers should slow down and persons should take the necessary precautions to secure and protect their property.

According to Royal Cayman Islands Police Inspector Ian Yearwood, as of 11:59 am on 10th June, Road closures in Grand Cayman included the Linford Pierson Highway (Westbound from Kings Gym into George Town), Walker’s Road (Windsor Park area), and Agnes Way, heading on to the Linford Pierson Highway. There are also downed power lines in the Logwood area of Prospect Park.

Several business and banks in Grand Cayman, have also closed branches as a result of flooding.

A statement by the Cayman Island Banker’s Association noted, “In light of the severe weather impacting the Cayman Islands, the Cayman Islands Bankers’ Association said Member Retail Banks had taken the decision to close their Banking Centers at 2:00 PM on June 10th, 2024.

“You are encouraged to make use of electronic banking services wherever possible. These include Bill Payments, Bank transfers and Electronic Funds Transfers via their Online Banking as well as making cash withdrawals and deposits at ATMs.”

Banks affected by the closures include Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Ltd, Cayman National Bank Ltd, CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank (Cayman) Limited, PROVEN Bank (Cayman) Limited, Scotiabank & Trust (Cayman) Ltd and RBC Royal Bank (Cayman) Ltd.

The National Emergency Operations Centre has been partially activated, today Monday 10 June 2024, to provide coordinated and tactical relief to persons affected by flooding in Grand Cayman. Led by government emergency response and disaster relief agency, Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI), officials from the Police, Coast Guard, Fire Service, Emergency Medical Services, Cadet Corps and Regiment are collaborating to ensure safe evacuations of low-lying areas.

The Cayman Islands Red Cross headquarters is also currently open to receive persons requiring emergency shelter. A secondary shelter at the East End Civic Centre is to open at 1:30pm today, Monday 10 June. Medical responders will be on site to provide emergent care.

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