By Christopher Tobutt
On Monday 24 August, Tropical Storm Laura did her worst. While the seas looked angry around Grand Cayman, there appeared to be little damage, but an official Tropical Storm Warning was issued by the Cayman National Weather Service for the sister islands on August 23 because they are much closer to the storm’s path, which was moving west-northwestwards along the coast of central Cuba.
On the Sister Islands the warning included anticipation of two to six inches of rain, and residents were told to take necessary precautions in case of flooding, especially of low-lying areas. Owners of marine vessels were asked to take them into safe harbor, with very rough and dangerous seas around the Sister Islands and waves as high as 8ft tall, and winds as high as 60 miles per hour. Cayman Brac’s Layman E Scott Sr. High School did not open on Monday, when they had been scheduled to hold a orientation meeting for some of the school’s students, because of the storm warning
It was forecast Laura would strengthen into a hurricane by Tuesday, when it would reach the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, and leaving plenty of rain and wind and rough seas in its wake. Monday morning on Grand Cayman started with a loud thunderstorm, and then an unusual series of very rapid flashes, but without thunder, just as dawn was nearing. There was plenty of rain, and lots of cold, shivery weather, and the National Weather Centre warned of disruptions to business and transport. While the seas looked angry and dramatic in George Town, and areas had been taped off, there was little sign of damage.
“Over Grand Cayman, conditions are expected to be bit more subdued with Tropical Storm Laura passes about 142 miles north-northeast of Grand Cayman. The winds direction is expected to be the southwesterly at 15 to 20 knots with higher becoming southerly 15 to 20 knots by evening and southeasterly 10 to 15 knots later tonight. Higher gusts are also 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,” a statement from the National Weather Centre said.
In Grand Cayman, The Port Authority was thoroughly prepared and Laura held no surprises. Port Director Joseph Woods said, through a spokesperson, “We saw the weather coming in from the last few days so we prepared for it, and everything is OK and nothing has gone wrong. When this weather passes we will set back up and in the meantime, all our facilities remain open.”
A statement from the National Hurricane Centre said, “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.”
Laura caused the deaths of 11 people when it passed over the Dominican Republic and Haiti, causing devastation as it downed power lines and produced flooding.