By Charleen Thomas www.newsday.co.tt
WEATHER conditions in Trinidad and Tobago should be vastly improved from sunrise this morning as the islands are expected to return to normalcy and begin to assess damages from the passage of Hurricane Ivan. The category three hurricane blew off roofs and felled trees in Tobago which left the island without power, water or telephone services in many areas. The impact was minimal in Trinidad with reports of only heavy gusts and rough seas. Director of the Meteorological Services Willis Mills told Newsday as the system which is still “very much a powerful hurricane moves out of our area, there will be much improved conditions.” He added that after sunrise today, “there will be vastly improved conditions with certainly less rain and gusts.”
The hurricane warning for Trinidad was lifted yesterday at 2 pm and for Tobago at 5 pm. Both islands were placed under Tropical Storm warnings and that too was expected to be downgraded as the evening progressed. At 2 pm, Hurricane Ivan was centred near 11.9N Latitude and 61.2W Longitude or approximately 55 km east southeast of Grenada. It was packing maximum sustained winds close to 195 km/h with higher gusts. The hurricane was moving at that time towards the west at 30 km/h and was expected to continue along that path for a few hours. At 5 pm Mills said the eye of the hurricane had just passed the southern tip of Grenada. Trinidad and Tobago began feeling the impact of the system from as early as 2 am yesterday. Trinidad remained calm for most of the day leaving many to wonder if there was really a hurricane in the midst. There were no reports of flooding, although early morning showers left the entrance to Port-of-Spain flooded. However that quickly ran off. The gusts predicted for later in the evening did materialise with swells close to three and four metres in some areas.
When the hurricane passed over Tobago at around midday, it felled trees and blew off roofs leaving the island without power, water or telephone services. An AP report said more than 550 people were in seven shelters in Tobago, where schools, government offices and most private businesses were closed. Both airports at Piarco and Crowne Point were also closed and are expected to reopen this morning. The last time Trinidad was severely pounded by a hurricane was in 1931. The AP report said in Grenada several hundred people were evacuated in low lying parts of the island as a precaution to extensive flooding. The hurricane also left damages in Barbados, where ferocious winds blew off roofs and took down trees and disrupted power. A roof at a large fish market was reportedly ripped off. The hurricane force winds were said to be up to 145 km/h. The hurricane’s wrath was further felt in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The Met Office continues to monitor the hurricane which was said to be heading for several other Caribbean islands including Jamaica and Cuba.
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