Tropical Depression Nine forms over central Caribbean Sea
Tropical Storm Arthur off the east coast of Florida. With the July Fourth weekend on the horizon, the Atlantic hurricane season's first named storm plodded off Florida's coast early Wednesday, though Tropical Storm Arthur wasn't yet spooking too many in the storm's potential path. (Photo:AP)

The Meteorological Service Division is reporting that Tropical Depression Nine has formed over the central Caribbean Sea and is expected to continue its slow strengthening over the next couple of days while moving closer to Jamaica.

A severe weather alert remains in effect for the island.

In a release on Friday, the Meteorological Service stated that as of 4;00 am the centre of Tropical Depression Nine was located near latitude 13.9 degrees north, longitude 68.6 degrees west, or about 985 kilometres (615 miles) east-southeast of Kingston, or 930 kilometres (580 miles) east-southeast of Morant Point, Jamaica.

On the current forecast track, it will move over the waters south of Hispaniola on Saturday and move closer to Jamaica’s southwestern coastline as a tropical storm on Sunday as it approaches the Cayman Islands.

Jamaica and its territorial waters should begin to feel impacts of the tropical depression as early as midday on Saturday with an increase in showers and gusty winds.

Fishers are being urged to take precautionary measures. The Met Service says all small craft, including fishers from the cays and banks should be arriving in port to start preparations for safe harbour.

The tropical depression, the Meteorological Service said, is moving towards the west-northwest near 20 kilometres per hour (13 miles per hour) and a more westward turn is forecast over the next day or so followed by a “turn back to the west-northwest and northwest by the weekend.”

Maximum sustained winds are reported to be near 55 kilometres per hour (35 miles per hour) with higher gusts and slow intensification is forecast over the next day or so, followed by more significant strengthening over the weekend and early next week.

The Meteorological Service said it continues to monitor the progress of this system.

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