T.S. GONZALO will enter the Caribbean on Saturday
Tropical Storm Gonzalo continued its westerly path towards the southern Windward Islands on Friday morning with the likelihood that it could remain a Tropical Storm over the weekend.
The US National Hurricane Centre(NHC) was projecting a weakening in intensity as the storm enters the Caribbean Sea, and dissipation within 96 hours or sooner according to some models.
“The intensity forecast is basically an update of the previous advisory through 36 hours," the HNC says, "indicating a hurricane approaching and moving over the southern Windward Islands, and a faster weakening trend afterwards."
However, with the NHC expecting it to dissipate as it enters the Caribbean Sea, that gives residents of the Cayman Islands reason to breathe a bit easier.
John Tibbetts, Director General of the Cayman Islands National Weather Service(CINWS) reported in an update on Friday that the storm was expected pass “quite a bit south of the Cayman Islands.”
He said the CINWS had started issuing notifications “which means that it (Gonzalo) was starting to become a bit of a concern for us.”
However, Mr Tibbets pointed out that things can change with the storm.
“When storms are relatively small,” he explained, “the models have a tendency to have some difficulty in predicting the track and intensity.”
He urges residents not t be caught off-guard because the storm is several days away.
“We still don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s a system that still needs to be monitored the closer it comes to the Cayman Islands.”
The CINWS head said despite Gonzalo not being an immediate threat to the territory, residents should take the necessary preparatory steps rather than wait until the last minute in the event circumstances change.
“You should have some of those supplies rather than waiting until the last minute, so that what you are doing as the storm gets closer is topping up your supplies.”
Mr Tibbets said the CINWS will continue to monitor the storm.
Meanwhile, the US NHC says while the risk of wind and rain impacts from Gonzalo in portions of the southern Windward Islands this weekend continues to increase, there is, however, significant uncertainty in how strong Gonzalo will be when it moves across the islands.
“Despite the uncertainty in Gonzalo's future intensity, hurricane or tropical storm conditions are possible across portions of the southern Windward Islands Saturday and Saturday night. Hurricane and Tropical Storm Warning and Watches are currently in effect for some of the islands,” the NHC says.
It urges interests in the southern Windward Islands to monitor the progress of Gonzalo and follow any advice given by local officials.
Tropical Storm Gonzalo is expected to become the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, but its forecast is a significant challenge with large uncertainty.
Weather forecasters are also keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Hanna in the Gulf of Mexico which headed for the Texas Gulf Coast, and a new system that has formed of the coast of West Africa that's already showing a 40% chance of development.
Here in Cayman, the CINWS is forecasting partly cloudy to cloudy skies with a 30% chance of showers and some thundershowers over the next four days to Monday.
Temperatures will generally be between 80 and 90 degrees F with winds east to southeast at 5 to 10 knots.
Sea state will be slight with wave heights of 1 to 3 feet.