Hurricane Earl Strengthens and Rapidly Heading Toward the Northernmost Leeward Islands.

The Situation:
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Montserrat and Virgin Islands. A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area within the next 12-24 hours.

Hurricane Earl is a Category one on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.  Maximum winds are near 75 mph (120 km/hr) with higher gusts.

At 5 p.m., the Centre of Hurricane Earl was located at Latitude 17.6 North, Longitude 59.5 West. Hurricane Earl is moving toward the west-northwest near 14 mph (22 km/hr).

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the centre, and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (260 km).

Earl is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of three (3) to five (5) inches over much of the Northern Leeward islands with possible isolated maximum amounts of eight (8) inches.

Storm surge will raise water levels by as much as two (2) to four (4) feet above ground level primarily near the coast in areas of onshore wind within the hurricane warning area.  The surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous battering waves.

This general motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected during the next day or so.  A turn toward the northwest is forecast Monday night or Tuesday.  On the forecast track, the centre of Earl will pass near or over the northernmost Leeward Islands tonight and Monday.

The National Disaster Offices of CDEMA Participating States have provided the following updates on their readiness actions.

At a meeting convened at 11:00 a.m. today with the Governor, Deputy Governor, Permanent Secretaries and Chairs of Disaster Sub-Committees, it was indicated that hurricane preparations are in place across the island.  The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) has been activated.  

All Government buildings have been shuttered. Arrangements have been put in place for the protection of tourists.  Shelters are to be opened at 6 p.m. Sunday, particularly the two (2) main ones, Mount Fortune and Bethel Methodist Church at South Hill.

Air and seaports will be closed later today.

Persons who will be deployed if required for Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis (DANA) once the storm has passed, have been notified and are standby.

Residents of Anguilla are in an advanced state of readiness.

Antigua and Barbuda
The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) has convened meetings with the staff of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) and the District Disaster Coordinators.

The NEOC has been activated.  

All emergency services have been placed on standby.  

District Disaster Coordinators on Antigua and Barbuda have been briefed on actions to be taken.  Particular attention is being given to areas traditionally prone to flooding, namely Piggotts, Grays Farm, Bolands and Yorks. The Public Works Department has also moved equipment to strategic locations across the islands to be activated as necessary.

Shelters have been opened on Antigua and Barbuda.
Media briefings have been conducted.

The National Disaster Preparedness and Response Advisory Committee convened at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday August, 2010 and the Emergency Operations Centre has been activated.  The Deputy Governor addressed the country advising on the situation pertaining to Hurricane Earl and urged residents to complete readiness actions.  Chairs of the District Committees have been briefed and shelters were opened effective 12:00 noon today.

St. Kitts and Nevis
The National Emergency Management Agency and the Nevis Disaster Management Department continue to monitor the progress of Earl and provide the public with appropriate information.

In view of potential flooding, attention is being given to water courses, sand-bagging where necessary and other mitigation measures at the community and national levels.

The Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, St. Kitts and the Vance Amory International Airport, Nevis were scheduled to close at 4:00 p.m. today, to re-open at 12:00 noon, tomorrow Monday, August 30, 2010.

Virgin Islands
The Department of Disaster Management remains on high alert, monitoring systems and providing weather releases.

Communications systems have been checked and are in working order.

Another meeting is currently being convened with key emergency personnel to confirm/advance final readiness actions.

The CDEMA Coordinating Unit (CU) has maintained communication with threatened States and continues to monitor the situation.  The CDEMA CU has also conducted its internal checks and stands ready to provide response support should this become necessary.