JAMAICA'S National Meteorological Service last night urged fishers on the island's banks and cays to hasten preparations for possible evacuation because of the threat posed by Tropical Storm Isaac.
The centre of the storm, which was late afternoon yesterday located near Latitude 16.0 degrees north and Longitude 67.1 degrees west, was about 285 kilometres south southwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico or about 405 kilometres southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
It was moving towards the west northwest at 26 km/h and is expected to approach the south coast of the
Dominican Republic and Haiti tonight. Maximum sustained winds remained were approximately 65 km/h, with higher gusts, and could strengthen as it nears the Dominican Republic and Haiti today. Tropical storm force winds extended outward up to 220 kilometres, mainly to the northeast of the centre.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), meanwhile, advised Jamaicans yesterday that while the country was not under a tropical storm watch, the current forecast could bring Issac into the Northwestern Caribbean by late Friday to early Saturday and therefore should be prepared.
"The ODPEM notes the anxiety of the population and given the uncertainty of the phenomenon encourages the public to use this time to examine their plans and arrangements, should Jamaica become threatened," the agency said.
It added: "The ODPEM continues to make preparations and deliver initial alerts to emergency services, inclusive of the Parish Disaster Coordinators and community contacts. We encourage the public to be attentive to the advisories disseminated from the Jamaica Meteorological Service and the ODPEM."
Earlier this week, director general of the ODPEM, Ronald Jackson, told Jamaicans to intensify their preparedness activities, as the hurricane season enters the peak period.
Jackson told the Jamaica Information Service that although the season has been fairly quiet so far for Jamaica, "we are approaching the historically active part of the season and so Jamaicans now need to pursue their preparedness regime with some vigour.
"The activities, we know, tend to pick up in late August into September. This year, we had an out of season storm to start off the season and we could see the storms coming late in the season. If we are to face any at all, we are hoping it is low level, so we are promoting vigilance because the season really ends in November," he stated.
The 2012 season saw an early burst of activity, with Tropical Storms Alberto and Beryl developing several days before the official start of the season, an occurrence not seen since 1908.
When Tropical Storm Debby formed on June 23, it was the first time that four storms had formed before July, since record keeping began in 1851.
Despite the early start, no further storms formed through all of July, until the development of four tropical systems in August, including Hurricanes Ernesto, Gordon and now Isaac.
Jackson stressed that while the country has not been impacted, Jamaicans should not be lulled into inaction, but should use the opportunity to continue reinforcing the preparedness regime so that if a hurricane does strike, persons would be adequately prepared.