British Virgin Islands + 3 more

Hurricane Omar closes in on Northern Leeward Islands, BVI

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THE EVENT:

At 2:00pm EDT today, Wed October 15, 2008, Hurricane Omar is strengthening over the north eastern Caribbean Sea and is expected to move through the Northern Leeward Islands late tonight and early Thursday. A Hurricane Warning was issued for Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands. A Hurricane Watch is now in effect for St. Kitts and Nevis. A Tropical Storm Warning has also been issued for Antigua and Barbuda and Montserrat.

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area within 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area within the next 24 hours.

PROGNOSIS:

At 2pm AST, the National Hurricane Centre in Miami reported that the centre of Hurricane Omar was located near Latitude 15.9 north, longitude 66.1 west or about 175 miles (280 kilometers) south of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Omar is moving towards the north east at about 15 mp/h or (24 km/h) with a gradual increase in speed expected over the next day or two. Maximum sustained winds are about 90 mp/h (150k/h) with higher gusts. Omar is a Category One hurricane and should be a Category 2 by the time it reaches the Northern Leeward Islands.

Hurricane force winds extend outwards up to 15 mp/h (30 km/h) from the centre. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 115 miles (185 km). Omar is expected to produce rainfall of between 5 and 10 inches with a maximum of 20 inches over the Northern Leeward Islands. This could produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Coastal storm surge flooding of 1 to 2 feet above normal tide levels along with large and dangerous battering waves can be expected. Omar is also expected to produce large swells which could cause damage to structures and cause beach erosion.

THE SITUATION:

Anguilla: The NEOC has met and the EOC activated. Measures are being put in place deal with expected flooding and landslides resulting from the storm.

Evacuation orders have been issued to persons living in Sandy Ground, Valley Bottom, Welches and Mount Fortune areas. Shelters have been opened to accommodate persons in need of shelter.

Visitors have also been advised to leave the island ahead of the impending hurricane. Government offices and schools have been closed.

Antigua: The National Emergency Management Organisation has met and is preparing for the anticipated effects of severe rainfalls due to the passage of Hurricane Omar.

BVI: The NEOC Operation Group has convened and the following have been put in place:

1. A census of tourists on the island is being taken and is expected to be submitted by 4:00 pm today.

2. Non-essential workers have been sent home and ports will be closed by 4:00pm today.

3. Government facilities including clinics have been closed and ferry services between the islands have been suspended.

Fishermen have been advised to secure their vessels. The government is advising that vessels should NOT be moored at the port facilities as a means of shelter.

The Public Works Department has begun flood mitigation activities and government has advised that the public electricity supplies will be disconnected once the wind speeds reach 50 mp/h.

The EOC has been activated and a list of emergency shelters has been issued. Regular weather releases are being issued via the Department of Disaster Management website.

Montserrat: The Disaster Management Coordination Agency is monitoring the system due to the heavy rainfall which could produce lahars and affecting the newly formed dome inside the volcano.

Provisions have been made for evacuations should this become necessary.

St. Kitts & Nevis: Prime Minister Hon. Denzil Douglas has addressed the nation regarding the impending impact of the Hurricane. The National Disaster Committee has been activated and District Committees are now on alert. Schools and public offices have been closed.

Heavy equipment and the St. Kitts-Nevis Amateur Radio Society have been mobilized.

REGIONAL RESPONSE:

The CDERA CU has been in contact with the countries likely to be affected by Hurricane Omar and continue to monitor the situations closely. The CU has also been in contact with the Regional Security System (RSS) and the Eastern Caribbean Donor Group (ECDG).

The Eastern Caribbean Donor Group will meet tomorrow to assess the situation and determine what if any assistance is required.

The Regional Response Mechanism is requested to be on standby to ensure their availability should this become necessary.

The CU is advising that countries in the Eastern Caribbean from Trinidad and Tobago northwards to the British Virgin Islands should monitor Omar due to the potential for heavy showers and thunderstorm activities which may result in flooding as these islands have had significant rainfall over the past few days.

The CU is also monitoring Tropical Depression #16 which is expected to impact Belize causing flooding and landslides. The developments in Barbados and St. Lucia which are being impacted by heavy rains are also being monitored.

HMS Wave Ruler is in the region on standby to provide assistance to impacted states should the need arise.

Contact Details: The CDERA CU 24hr contact number is 246 425 0386