A tropical storm watch has now been issued for Jamaica as a tropical depression continues to strengthen over the Central Caribbean Sea while moving closer to the island, the Meteorological Service has advised.
A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions pose a possible threat to Jamaica within the next 48 hours.
At 4:00 pm the centre of Tropical Depression #9 was located near latitude 14.7 degrees north, longitude 71.3 degrees west, or about 690 kilometres (430 miles) east-southeast of Kingston, or 630 kilometres (390 miles) east-southeast of Morant Point, Jamaica, the met office said.
The tropical depression is moving towards the west-northwest near 24 km/h (15 mph). A westward motion is expected to begin Friday night and continue through Saturday night, followed by a turn towards the northwest and north-northwest on Sunday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 55 km/h (35 mph) with higher gusts and some slow strengthening is forecast over the next day or so. The depression is expected to become a tropical storm by Friday night. More significant intensification is forecast on Sunday, the met office said.
On the current forecast track, Tropical Depression #9 will move over the waters south of Hispaniola on Saturday and move closer to Jamaica’s southwestern coastline as a tropical storm on Saturday night and Sunday before heading in the direction of the Cayman Islands.
“All small craft operators including fishers from the cays and banks should by now have completed all the necessary safety precautions and are advised to remain in safe harbour until all warning messages have been lifted and wind and sea conditions have returned to normal,” the met office said.
It added that Jamaica should expect weather conditions to gradually begin to deteriorate with rainfall associated with the depression’s outer bands on Saturday morning. Rainfall will increase during the day and is likely to be accompanied by gusty winds by Saturday night, said the met office.