Mon | Jul 23, 2018

Tropical cyclone moves closer to Trinidad, Grenada

Published:Monday | June 19, 2017 | 2:53 PM

A potential tropical cyclone inched closer towards Trinidad and Grenada on Monday forcing the authorities to announce measures to deal with a possible landfall of a tropical storm later on Monday night or early Tuesday.

The Trinidad and Tobago government announced the closure of schools and Education Minister Anthony Garcia said “this is to ensure that the safety of our students, our teachers and all those who operate within our schools is maintained.

“So because of safety issues we are closing all schools in Trinidad and in Tobago,” he added.

Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young said “at this stage the Government’s position is that there should be no panic”.

“The OPDM (Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management) has been in constant communication with the necessary authorities including the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, the Met Office, the local and rural government, meaning all municipal corporations and other entities and State apparatus that would you expect to have to deal with a situation such as this,” he said on television here.

In Grenada, the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) said it is continuing to monitor the weather system and that the authorities have also announced that all schools will be closed Monday.

“Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the state of Grenada overnight Monday into Tuesday morning with moderate to strong convection and thundershowers. The disturbance is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 50 to 125 millimetres over the Windward Islands,’ NaDMA said.

It urged people, particularly in the south of the island and those living in flood prone areas to be especially vigilant, adding “if you have not yet done so, it is a good time to ensure that all drains and water ways around your property are cleared from all obstructions and that you have in place your hurricane plan and preparedness kit.”

The Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL) announced the cancellations of several domestic, regional and international flights.

“Our services for this afternoon into this evening are all cancelled,” said CAL Communications Manager Dionne Ligore, noting that several of the flights from Miami to Guyana, Fort Lauderdale to Port of Spain and Trinidad to St Lucia and Barbados had also been affected.

In a statement, the airline said affected customers travelling between now and Wednesday would be able to change or cancel their reservations without penalty.

Passengers who wish to change their flights must complete their travel by June 25 and travel in the same cabin as originally booked.

“Caribbean Airline will not be responsible for arrangements or transportation to/from an alternate airport or hotel/overnight expenses incurred by affected passengers,” the release stated.

The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) said it had added addition hotline numbers in light of the system and reminded the public “to stay away from any fallen lines or poles and should not attempt to move or interfere with the infrastructure, but rather to contact T&TEC immediately in the event of any hazardous situations”.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its 2.00 pm (local time) bulletin that hurricane hunter aircraft is now investigating the weather system to determine of it is a tropical storm.While the governments of Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have discontinued tropical storm warnings for their countries, Venezuela has joined Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada where residents have been told to brace for a possible storm later on Monday. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba.

NHC said that the system was centred near latitude 8.8 North, longitude 57.8 West and moving towards the west near 25 miles per hour (mph).

“A fast motion toward the west-northwest is expected over the next 48 hours.  On the forecast track, the disturbance is expected to move through the Windward Islands and near the eastern coast of Venezuela tonight and early Tuesday.”

It said maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph with higher gusts.

“Some strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours, and the disturbance is forecast to be a tropical storm when it moves through the Windward Islands and eastern Venezuela tonight and Tuesday,” the NHC said, adding that thunderstorm activity associated with the disturbance continues to show signs of organization, and additional development is likely during the next day before the system interacts with Venezuela.