28th August 2010 – At 5PM, Tropical Storm Earl was located near 16.5N 54.2W, 600 miles east of the Northern Leeward Islands, moving westward at a relatively fast rate of 23 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph with higher gusts. Tropical storm force winds extend out to 85 miles to the north of the centre. Minimum central pressure is 999MB. A gradual turn to the west-north-west, with a decrease in forward speed, is expected on Sunday. Depending on when this expected turn occurs, the Virgin Islands could be impacted on a much larger scale than previously anticipated. Any further deviation to the south could result in hurricane conditions affecting the area on Monday.
A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the British and American Virgin Islands and for the islands of Culebra and Vieques. A Tropical Storm Warning is now in effect for St Martin, St Barthelemy, St Maarten, Antigua & Barbuda, Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis, Anguilla, Saba and St Eustatius.
A Tropical Storm Watch means that Tropical Storm Conditions are possible within the watch area generally within 48 hours.
In the next 48 hours, forecasters expect Earl to slow down as it moves around the high pressure area to its north. On this track, Earl’s centre would remain about 40-50 miles north of the northern Leeward Islands on Monday. Earl is expected to strengthen gradually and reach hurricane strength in about 24 hours. When Earl makes its closest approach to the Leeward Islands, it is expected to be a Category 2 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with winds of 100-110mph. Squalls associated with the outer bands are expected to arrive over the area on Sunday evening, bringing strong thunderstorms, heavy rains with the potential to cause localized flooding, and gusty wind conditions. On Monday, sustained winds at tropical storm force strength could be encountered across the northern Leeward Islands, from Barbuda to the Virgin Islands.
Boaters are reminded to exercise extreme caution while at sea and to continue preparations to secure their vessels. Residents are also reminded to secure debris and to make final preparations, which should conclude no later than Sunday morning.
The DDM remains on high alert, monitoring systems and providing weather releases throughout the weekend. Please visit the Department of Disaster Management’s website at www.bviddm.com for continuously updated information. In the event that persons wish to contact DDM officers, they can do so by calling the following numbers, which would be available over the weekend: 468-9121, 468-9416, 468-9854 and 468-9665.