28th August 2010 – At 11AM, Tropical Storm Earl was located near 16N 51.8W, 760 miles east of the Northern Leeward Islands, moving westward at 18 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. Although no change in strength is likely today, Earl could still become a hurricane on Sunday.
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for St Martin, St Barthelemy, St Maarten, Antigua & Barbuda, Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis, Anguilla, Saba and St Eustatius. The Antigua Met Office has informed the DDM that a Tropical Storm Watch will be issued for the BVI at 5pm this afternoon and will, most likely, be followed by a Hurricane Watch or Warning.
A Tropical Storm Watch means that Tropical Storm Conditions are possible within the watch area generally within 48 hours.
Earl is expected to turn West-north-west, with a decrease in speed over the next couple of days. On this forecast track, the centre of Earl could approach the northern Leeward Islands on Sunday night, bringing tropical storm force winds to the area. When Earl makes its closest approach to the Virgin Islands, it is expected to be a Category II Hurricane. On Tuesday, Earl is forecast to be a Category III Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with maximum sustained winds near 120mph. On late Sunday to early Monday, breezy conditions with tropical storm force winds around 40mph could impact the general area. There is a chance that Earl could pass closer to the islands of the northern Caribbean. Any significant deviation to the south will result in Hurricane conditions arriving over our area as early as Sunday evening. A NOAA Aircraft research mission is expected to check the system later today, and an Air Force Reconnaissance Aircraft will enter the eye of Earl early Sunday.
The Department of Disaster Management has been contacted by the CDEMA Regional Coordination Centre, who is on standby, monitoring the progress of Earl.
Squalls associated with Earl’s outer bands should arrive over the northeastern Caribbean islands on Sunday afternoon with strong thunderstorms, heavy rains and gusty wind conditions. Mariners are currently asked to exercise caution while at sea, as conditions could begin to deteriorate rapidly, and efforts should be made to begin preparations to secure their vessels.
Residents are informed that there is great uncertainty regarding the possible track of Earl. The current track brings the system much closer to our area than previously expected. Over the past few months, the BVI has received significant rainfall, leaving saturated soil, fallen rocks and flooded areas. In the event that the BVI was to be significantly impacted by Earl, similar or greater conditions may occur.
All residents are strongly urged finalize hurricane preparations by early Sunday.
The DDM is on high alert and will continue to monitor all systems and provide weather releases throughout the weekend. As Earl nears the Territory, a decision will be made regarding the full activation of the NEOC. 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.