The good news is Hurricane Dennis has continued a more northwesterly track over the last few hours, further lessening the danger of a direct hit to the Cayman Islands. If this movement continues an All Clear could be issued at 7 a.m. tomorrow (Friday). However, Dennis continues to strengthen rapidly and is increasing in size so everyone in the Cayman Islands should continue to monitor the hurricane and maintain his or her state of preparedness.
Once the All Clear is announced, government offices will reopen at the usual times tomorrow and businesses will be expected to do the same. Schools will remain closed for the summer holidays.
At 4pm the centre of Hurricane Dennis was located near latitude 19.0 north, longitude 76.6 west, or 214 miles east-southeast of Cayman Brac and 313 east of Grand Cayman. The storm is moving toward the northwest near 15 miles per hour.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 miles per hour with higher gusts, making Dennis a dangerous Category 3 hurricane, which is likely to strengthen even further as it moves past the Cayman area. However, the closest point of approach is now expected to be 98 miles northeast of Cayman Brac and 190 miles from Grand Cayman early tomorrow morning.
Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 140 miles, which means the Sister Islands can expect tropical storm force winds beginning around 2 a.m. tomorrow (Friday) and continuing through to daybreak. Grand Cayman should experience winds of around 25 miles per hour with higher gusts. Winds will be out of the north and northwest gradually swinging around to the south and southwest with corresponding rough seas on these coasts.
Rainfall of five to six inches is still likely from tonight through Saturday morning. In anticipation of some residents needing dry accommodation, a shelter in each district will be opened at 6p.m. as planned. The shelters are: West Bay Primary School Hall; Red Cross Building; Bodden Town Primary School Hall; East End Civic Centre; and North Side Civic Centre.
Employees returning to work tomorrow should be prepared for rainy conditions.
Despite the series of most favourable developments in the path of the hurricane during the course of the day, Donovan Ebanks, Chairman of the National Hurricane Committee (NHC) urges all residents to continue to take this system seriously and to monitor local media for further information. =14While it seems likely that we will be spared the major effects of this system, I would urge everyone to not rush to the conclusion that everything has passed until the All Clear is given. The NHC will continue to monitor the system over the evening and tonight and is as keen as is the public to see the All Clear, which will indicate the hurricane is no longer a threat to the Cayman Islands.