Tropical Storm Ida heads to Western Cuba

| 26/08/2021 | 26 Comments

(CNS) UPDATED 8:15am: Grand Cayman was given the all clear from Tropical Storm Ida at 6am Thursday morning, though at that time the Sister Islands were still experiencing storm conditions. Ida is now heading towards Western Cuba and the Isle of Youth, where tropical storm condition are expected later today. According to Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, all government offices are expected to open at 9am today.

Update from Little Cayman:

Update from Cayman Brac:

Update from Grand Cayman:

UPDATED 2am: Another wobble in its path is expected to bring Tropical Storm Ida within five miles of Grand Cayman at around 3am Friday. Sustained winds could reach 38 knots and storm conditions are expected to last in Grand Cayman until around 7am. Deputy Governor Franz Manderson urged residents to take the storm seriously and hunker down in their homes until the all clear is given.

“We urge everyone to stay off the roads and stay at home for their safety and that of emergency responders. This storm has been extremely unpredictable and it is important that we continue to stay vigilant and exercise extreme caution,” he said.

Flood and marine warnings remain in effect for the Cayman Islands as the National Weather Service said that as much as a foot of rain could now fall over the next two days. At 1am local time the NHC said Ida was moving at just under 12mph toward the northwest as it passed across the Cayman Islands with sustained winds of 40mph and higher gusts.

UPDATED 10pm: Tropical Storm Ida slowed to less than12mph as it approached the Cayman Islands on Thursday night with winds of more than 40mph with higher gusts. The storm was 105 miles south-east of Grand Cayman at 10pm local time heading toward the north-west with tropical storm winds extending around 70 miles from the centre. Ida remains on track to pass somewhere over the Cayman Islands after another wobble in the track suggested the storm was headed for Grand Cayman. Local weather forecasters said that they expected the centre of Ida to pass over Cayman in the next few hours.

The Gun Bay shelter has now opened in East End and the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC), which coordinates the Cayman Islands response to national disasters, is activated and will work past the all clear.The NEOC helpline operated by members of the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps, is open until it is stood down on 949-6555.

UPDATED 7pm: When the US National Hurricane Center released its bulletin at 7pm local time, Tropical Storm Ida was located around 130 miles SE of Grand Cayman travelling at about 14mph, with winds of 40mph and higher gusts, and further strengthening is expected. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles north of the centre. Local officials have said that storm conditions associated with Ida are expected to begin impacting the Eastern Districts of Grand Cayman around 11pm tonight, after switching to a more northerly track.

The storm is expected to pass between Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands with gusts of tropical storm force winds potentially reaching across all three islands, the National Weather Service (NWS) said. The change in the track will see tropical storm force winds reaching Little Cayman around midnight.

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson urged residents to exercise caution and complete their preparations. “All three Cayman Islands are experiencing wet conditions and increasing wind speeds and I want to emphasise to everyone the importance of heading home and be inside before dark if you are able. We all need to exercise caution while on the road and while we wait for the storm to pass, and to stay tuned to local channels for any further changes that may happen overnight,” he added.

Three hurricane shelters have opened on Grand Cayman: Sir John A. Cumber Primary School in West Bay, the Red Cross Building on Huldah Avenue and Clifton Hunter High School in Frank Sound. The primary school and high school are accessible to people with disabilities and Clifton Hunter is an animal shelter. Aston Rutty Centre on Cayman Brac is now open, as is the Public Works Department Building on Little Cayman.

See the weather update on Tropical Storm Ida by CIGTV below:

UPDATED 4:30PM: Tropical Depression 9 has become Tropical Storm Ida after a Hurricane Hunter aircraft confirmed at around 4:15 local time that sustained winds had reached 40mph, with higher gusts. According to the US National Hurricane Center, Ida is now around 130 miles southeast of Grand Cayman heading northwest at 14mph. Further strengthening is forecast and the current path has the storm heading directly for Cayman.

The estimated arrival time of the centre of the storm is around 1am tomorrow morning but local forecasters expect tropical storm conditions from around 7:30 this evening. The Sister Islands are already experiencing showers that are expected to continue until Saturday. However, the storm will be closest to Grand Cayman and is expected to pass directly over the island.

Government offices are largely closed as civil servants have been released in order to make storm preparations. All local supermarkets have confirmed they will be closing between 4pm and 6pm this evening.

With some eight inches of rain forecast over the next two days and wave heights during that period potentially reaching 10 feet, the National Weather Service has issued flood and marine warnings. Given that the ground is already saturated following the recent passage of Tropical Storm Grace through the area, the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), is expected to partially activate overnight. The West Bay Police Station has also moved to the Governor’s Square location.

The NEOC is opening three shelters at 4pm today, including Sir John A. Cumber Primary School, Red Cross Headquarters on Huldah Avenue and Clifton Hunter High School in Frank Sound. SJACPS and CHHS are emergency medical centres, and CHHS is an animal shelter. Additional shelters will be opened as needed, according to Deputy Governor Franz Manderson.

Although TD9 is expected to be a mid-level storm as it passes through the Cayman Islands area, Manderson warned that severe weather systems are unpredictable and that this system is already displaying the potential for intensification.

“I would like to urge all persons, in particular those whose residences may have been impacted by Tropical Storm Grace, to immediately assess the safety of their residences and determine if it is suitable to ride out the storm. If it is not you need to decide now where you will shelter,” he said. 

Hazard Management said residents should move any debris from their yards that can fly around and damage property, secure a three-day supply of drinking water, non-perishable food and necessary supplies. People should also be prepared to lose power again and secure a battery or solar powered radio with them so that they can stay informed even if the power goes out.

Members of the public are urged to exercise extreme caution on the roads while completing their preparations. They are also reminded to avoid shorelines and refrain from non-essential travel after 6pm. The NHMC advises the public to complete their storm preparedness by nightfall. The RCIPS also asked people to remain in doors and off the roads by 6pm to avoid the expected flooding.

The National Weather Service will issue updates at 4pm, 7pm, 10pm, 1am, 4am, 7am and 11am during the passage of the storm. These will include wind, wave and rain impacts. Hazard Management will issue another update after its meeting at 4pm today. Government channels including, CIGTV, the CIG FB and Twitter pages are being updated as information comes in.

Affected travellers will be contacted by Cayman Airways but passengers may also monitor the airline’s website and Facebook page for updates on flights. Today’s Cayman Airways Express operations were cancelled, as was the repatriation flight to Kingston, Jamaica.

TD9 is expected to become a tropical storm tonight and a hurricane when it is near western Cuba or over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, where additional strengthening is likely and the system could be a major hurricane when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast of the US.

Premier Wayne Panton delivered a message on YouTube asking people not to get storm weary as TD9 approaches and to make sure they are prepared. See below:

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Comments (26)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It is truly dangerous, backwards, frustrating, disappointing that the Cayman Islands does not have a TV channel to inform residents about dangerous weather (or any other potentially important national matter) in real time.

    Last night (Thursday) CIG23 was displaying a frozen radar image of TS Ida, captured when it was between Jamaica and Cayman – it never updated;

    At 11 pm Radio Cayman delivered a weather bulletin from 10 am!!

    CH33 was showing stale looped interviews with no bearing to the impending situation.

    Meanwhile the other local channels have continued to show tourist-related advertisements and infomercials – for who particularly, tourists??

    THANK YOU CAYMAN COMPASS for your social media updates but of course NOT EVERYONE had access to that.

    However, it MUST BE REMEMBERED (although seemingly forgotten or ignored by the “powers-that-be”) that a significant section of our population do not have access to social media platforms, eg, some (computer-shy) elderly, poor and indigent (can’t afford social media platforms) and some (like myself) who limit their electronic access to telephone, text (maybe WhatsApp) and computer (perhaps). Is this demographic not entitled to accurate, up-to date info on impending dangerous situations??

    If CIG has no interest in developing a stable and reliable TV forum why can’t some private sector venture fill the gap which our local TV station left 2 years ago?? Easier yet, why can’t CH33 and the tourist channels step in with relevant programming when the need arises???

    Please – this situation is really THIRD WORLD!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    for gc…..all true models showed little wind/rain for caymn.
    why this not reported?
    if the ‘eye/centre’ came so close to cayman…why not wind in gc?
    same thing happened grace….all the real wind was 75-100 miles from the eye/centre.
    why was there so little wind near the ‘eye/centre’ of both storms.
    time for better/more detailed analysis of these systems.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sure the National Weather Service would be happy to receive paid advice from you.

    • Anonymous says:

      The difference is that Grace passed just to our SW and Ida passed just to our NE. So with Grace we were on the stronger sided of the centre and with Ida it was the opposite. Both storms were strengthening as they passed by GCM, but Ida was encountering a bit of wind shear from the SW, which pushed some of the worst weather further East. That was great news for GCM, but the Sister Islands got more of the weather this time.
      Every storm is different… we have to be prepared every single time.

      • Anonymous says:

        would not have mattered. if cayman had the ‘direct hit’ as predicted it still would have recieved no damage.
        why no strong winds near the eye/centre????

    • Anonymous says:

      Here we go, another armchair expert who knows a huge amount about very little!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why isn’t the private sector opening at 9am like the civil service. Why do I have to wait until 10 am to visit my bank.

    My how things have changed. The Civil Service leading the private sector.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hurricane Hilton not open JuJu? Take some doses of vaccine to these shelters.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I suspect it is going to be stronger than Grace. Ready or not.

  6. Miss Kathy says:

    I was at Kirks supermarket today. Around noon. It is the most expat grocery store hands down. And I went there because of that. I am usually a price shopper, but there is a storm, so I wanted to go to the least crowded venue. And a young Caymanian mom was in front of me. Another expat mom was behind me. We were all chatting, as the line was long. I looked at what I was purchasing, verses what this young mom was purchasing and it broke my heart. She needed more items. I wanted to help her, but was distracted by another shopper. I am so upset that she couldn’t by basic supplies. We need a higher base wage. She wanted to buy a treat for her kids, but clearly did not have the extra funds. This is not right in a civilized nation.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kirks staff are amazing especially the manager, the Irish friendly one. Amazing store.

    • Anonymous says:

      Miss Kathy, Cayman is an expensive place and this is unlikely to change any time soon. Subsequently one must live within your means. Raising the minimum wage won’t make things better for people as it will be followed by a further increase in inflation in order to compensate for the raise. I feel for the mother and for people in the lower end of the working class who are struggling but this is not the answer. Also, Kirks is the most expensive supermarket on the island. If her child wanted a treat she would do better by buying in bulk from cost-u-less. Let’s not turn this into an ex-pat vs Caymanian battle. It doesn’t do anything but cause resentment and division.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Brace yourself!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Good luck, Cayman. Stay safe.

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