Ernesto spares Jamaica

Residents walked by two of the light posts that were downed by strong winds on Paradise Street in Kingston, yesterday.

KINGSTON – A poorly organised and weakened Tropical Storm Ernesto stayed far from Jamaica’s southern coastline yesterday but managed to dump several inches of rain on the island as it churned rapidly westward through the warm Caribbean Sea towards the Nicaragua-Honduras border.

Last night the National Meteorological Service (Met Service) said the tropical storm warning that had been in effect for the island since Saturday could be lifted today as the storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour, moved further away from the island.

At 4 p.m. yesterday, the Met Service said the centre of Ernesto was located near latitude 15.3 degrees north, longitude 78.6 degrees west or about 355 kilometres (220 miles) south-southwest of Kingston. That location would put the storm about 330 kilometres (205 miles) south of Negril Point, Jamaica’s westernmost end.

“Ernesto is now moving towards the west near 32 km/h (20 mph) and a gradual turn toward the west-northwest with a further decrease in forward speed is expected during the next 48 hours,” the Met Service said in its 5 p.m. bulletin.

“Maximum sustained winds remain near 85 km/h (50 mph), with higher gusts, and some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 205 km (125 miles) from the centre of Ernesto,” it added.

Yesterday, the Met Service said radar reports indicated that the island, particularly eastern parishes, had been experiencing light to moderate showers “in squalls moving from east to west”.

It advised small craft operators, including fishers from the cays and banks, to remain in safe harbour “until all warning messages have been discontinued and wind and sea conditions have returned to normal”.

Meanwhile, there were no official reports of damage but residents of Paradise Street, which runs off Windward Road in Kingston, said heavy wind gusts brought down five Jamaica Public Service light posts in the area. There were also reports of power cuts in several St Catherine communities during an early-morning thunderstorm. (Observer)

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