Gustav only 12 miles off LC

| 03/09/2008

(CNS): According to the post storm analysis from the Chief Meteorologist, John Tibbetts, Hurricane Gustav passed Little Cayman at a distance of only 12 miles with winds gusting over 100 mph. He said that data from the National Hurricane Center in Miami indicated that Gustav passed Little Cayman with a maximum sustained wind speed of 82 mph gusting to 102 mph. The storm surge was estimated at two to four feet with wave heights of 15 to 20 feet and the rain-gage at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute measured 6.25 inches.

Gustav’s closest point with Cayman Brac was within 24 miles with a maximum sustained wind speed of 76 mph gusting to 95 mph. The NEOC Automatic Weather Station measured a maximum sustained wind speed of 63 mph and recorded 9.42 inches of rain over the period 29 and 30 August.

Meanwhile, Gustav passed within 63 miles of Grand Cayman with a maximum sustained wind speed of 56 mph gusting to 66 mph, though higher wind speeds were likely along the north and east coasts of Grand Cayman. The maximum sustained wind speed measured in East End was 59 mph and 47 mph at the airport. These were measured by the Automatic weather stations from the NEOC. Tibbetts said that storm surge was minimal at best, although some flooding occurred along the coastal areas in North Sound due to the addition of high tides and the piling up of water. The National Weather Service measured 2.71 inches at the Owen Roberts International Airport.

“There were two things that stood out about Gustav,” said Tibbetts. “It was unusually slow moving and more typical of a late season system in its rapid intensification.” He explained that such behavior is far more common in systems that form toward the end of the hurricane season but he noted that the Caribbean is particularly hot right now and as we move into the busiest part of the season we should not be surprised to see more systems rapidly intensifying.

Gustav started life as Tropical Depression #7 over the central Caribbean Sea on the morning of Monday 25 August moving northwest at 15 mph with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph.

The depression rapidly became Tropical Storm Gustav later that day. At 1:00 pm Monday 25 August it was located 225 miles southeast of Port Au Prince, Haiti moving northwest at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds near 60 mph.

“Tropical Storm Gustav’s track took it from its birth place in the central Caribbean across Haiti,” said Tibbetts, who added that it then took an unexpected turn to the southwest passing within 5 miles of Kingston, Jamaica, during the evening of 28 August. At 4:00 pm Friday 29 August it was located 15 miles east-northeast of Kingston moving west at 6 mph with maximum sustained winds near 70 mph.

Slowly strengthening the storm eventually became a hurricane west of Jamaica on the evening of 29 August around 100 miles east of Grand Cayman. Gustav moved through the Cayman Islands passing within 12 miles of Little Cayman and it reached its maximum intensity of 150 mph (Category 4) Saturday afternoon as it passed over the Isle of Pines.

Tropical Storm force winds began in Cayman Brac at 12:00 pm Friday 29 August spreading across Little Cayman an hour later and Grand Cayman by 4:00 pm that afternoon. Hurricane force winds spread across the Sister Islands by 8:00 pm that evening. Wind speeds dropped to tropical storm force over the Sister Islands once more by 1:00 am Saturday 30 August 30th and below tropical storm force across the entire Cayman Islands by 4:00 am.


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