Tropical Storm Grace is expected to intensify and reach hurricane status soon, prompting authorities to raise Hurricane Watches for portions of the coast. The storm is located on Jamaica now, giving a break from those suffering from both the tropical cyclone and earthquake catastrophe there. While Tropical Storm Watches have been dropped on Haiti, new watches and warnings are up elsewhere.
Right now, a Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico from Cabo Catoche to Punta Allen. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Jamaica, the southern coast of the Cuban provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Las Tunas, and Camaguey, and for the Cayman Islands. A Tropical Stom Watch is in effect for the southern coast of the Cuban provinces of Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Cienfuegos, Matanzas, and Pinar del Rio, as well as Isla de la Juventud. A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hour
before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area.
On the current forecast track from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) , the center of Grace will continue to move near the northern coast of Jamaica this afternoon. Grace is forecast to move near or over the Cayman Islands late tonight and early Wednesday, and then approach the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico late Wednesday or early Thursday. Maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph with higher gusts. According to the NHC, Grace is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane on Wednesday, with some additional strengthening possible prior to the center reaching the Yucatan Peninsula.
While tropical storm force winds have cleared Haiti, heavy rain will continue there, with an additional 2-4″ of rain with isolated maximum totals of 15″ possible there. This heavy rainfall should lead to flash and urban flooding, and possible mudslides over Haiti.
For southern Cuba, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and portions of the Yucatan Peninsula, 3-6″ of rain with isolated maximum totals of 10″ are possible through Thursday. This heavy rainfall may lead to flash and urban flooding.
Beyond rough surf, a significant storm surge is possible from Grace. According to the NHC, a dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 2-4′ above normal tide levels along the immediate coast near and to the north of where the center makes landfall in the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula late Wednesday or early Thursday. Near the coast,the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.