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Eyes on Tomas

Published:Sunday | October 31, 2010 | 12:00 AM
This image of Hurricane Tomas was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It was taken yesterday. Tomas had strengthened quickly Friday night with maximum sustained winds of 65mph (100 kph). Its centre was about 100 miles (165 kilometres) southeast of Barbados. - AP

All eyes in Jamaica should be on Hurricane Tomas this week as it continues its threatening run towards the island.

Yesterday, Tomas lashed Eastern Caribbean islands dumping heavy rain, ripping off roofs, downing trees and power lines on a track that could put it close to Jamaica by Thursday.

With conditions ripe for strengthening, forecasters say Tomas, which yesterday was a Category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (120km), could become a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, with projected wind speed greater than 111 miles (178km) per hour, by the middle of this week.

"This is a very dangerous hurricane that is just beginning to get going," hurricane expert Jeff Masters of private US forecaster Weather Underground wrote in his blog.

"At this time, it appears that the Dominican Republic and Haiti are most at risk from a strike by Tomas, though the storm could move as far west as Jamaica, or as far east as the northern Lesser Antilles Islands."

The National Meteorological Service late yesterday warned that Tomas "has the potential to become a significant threat to weather conditions over Jamaica and its territorial waters over the next few days".

Tomas, the 12th hurricane of a very active 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, damaged homes, knocked out power, and blocked some roads in St Lucia and St Vincent after damaging homes in Barbados.

St Vincent and the Grenadines activated its emergency preparation and response protocols as Hurricane Tomas made its way towards the northern Windward Islands.