Jamaica Observer: KINGSTON, Friday, July 2, 2021 – A tropical storm watch was last night issued for Jamaica as the island prepares for possible impact from Tropical Storm Elsa.

The National Meteorological Service last night said that the projection is for rainfall in excess of 50 mm across the island, ranging between 75 mm and 100 mm in northern and southeastern parishes from Sunday through to Monday. The rain could, however, start affecting sections of the island as early as today.

Acting head of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) Richard Thompson is confident that Jamaica’s disaster response agencies are ready to deal with any emergency from the rains expected to lash the island over the weekend.

“Work has gone in so far, from way before the start of the hurricane season [June 1], to ensure that the country is prepared as we normally do,” Thompson told the Jamaica Observer.

“We are looking now at the events for this weekend and if there are any possibilities for flooding and to advise the public as to anything they need to do. These are the flood-related warnings that we normally give to persons who live in flood-prone areas,” added Thompson.

He noted that a number of agencies are mobilised and prepared to deal with any eventuality.

“It is a national effort, so you talk about the resources that are with the National Works Agency, the local authorities, ODPEM. It is a combined effort and there are resources in place if there should be need for any response going into the weekend.

“We have always worked hard to ensure that the country is prepared and ready. We have a tried and tested system of many, many years, so we always have the country in a state of readiness going into a hurricane season,” declared Thompson.

The Meteorological Service of Jamaica has forecast that the island will experience morning showers today and isolated thunderstorms across eastern parishes.

This afternoon is expected to be cloudy with showers and isolated thunderstorms across sections of most parishes in the evening.

Tomorrow, the island should experience night-time showers across eastern parishes, while Sunday is expected to be mostly cloudy with early morning showers across eastern parishes.

Widespread showers and thunderstorms, with occasional gusty winds, are expected across the island late Sunday morning and throughout the rest of the day.

According to the Met Service, a tropical wave is quickly approaching the central Caribbean and is expected to move across Jamaica today while Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to move across sections of the eastern Caribbean on Friday bringing rain to Jamaica.

In the meantime, The Associated Press reported last evening that officials in St Vincent and the Grenadines were warning people to plan for possible evacuations as the tiny islands, hit recently by massive volcanic eruptions, prepared for potential flooding and landslides from Tropical Storm Elsa, which whirled toward the eastern Caribbean yesterday.

Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record, beating out last year’s Eduardo which formed on July 6, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

The storm was last evening located about 410 miles (660 kilometres) east-southeast of Barbados and is expected to pass near or over portions of the Windward Islands or the southern Leeward Islands today. It had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph) and was moving west-northwest at 29 mph (46 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Tropical storm warnings were also issued for Barbados, Martinique, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. A tropical storm watch was in effect for Grenada and the southern and western coasts of Haiti from the southern border of the Dominican Republic to Mole-St-Nicolas.

The Government of Barbados said it was suspending public transportation and closing vaccination sites and businesses including gas stations by last night, while St Vincent expected to so by this morning.

Elsa was expected to strengthen in upcoming days and move into the eastern Caribbean Sea late Friday and Friday night, and pass near the southern coast of Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, on Saturday. The storm was then expected to move near Jamaica and portions of eastern Cuba on Sunday, though the forecast so far calls for it to remain below hurricane force.

The rain could unleash isolated flash flooding and mudslides, according to the National Hurricane Center.