TROPICAL Storm Kate formed on Monday morning and is approaching the central Bahamas.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for the central and northwestern Bahamas, including Grand Bahama, Abaco, Andros, Bimini, Berry Islands, New Providence, Eleuthera, The Exumas, Cat Island, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds increased to near 45 mph with additional strengthening expected according to the National Hurricane Centre. The storm was centred about 35 miles south east of Cat Island, 85 miles south east of Rock Sound, Eleuthera, and 170 miles south east of New Providence at 7am on Monday and moving northwest near 15 mph.
The storm is forecast to pass near or over Cat Island late on Monday morning, over Eleuthera on Monday afternoon and over Abaco on Monday night. It is predicted to turn north west/north-north west later on Monday.
Schools in Cat Island and San Salvador were closed on Monday and schools in Eleuthera will close at noon according to a statement from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Bahamasair cancelled the 2.05pm flight to San Salvador with passengers switched to a 9am flight on Tuesday.
On Sunday residents in the southeast and the central Bahamas were put on alert for heavy rain and strong gusty winds. Residents in those areas were also told to be prepared to take quick action in the event a tropical storm warning was issued. Tropical storm warnings for Acklins, Crooked Island, Samana Cay and Long Cay were discontinued on Monday morning.
In a statement on Sunday, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported that it was partially activated as it monitored the new developing system.
In October, Hurricane Joaquin pummelled Acklins, Crooked Island, San Salvador, Long Island, Ragged Island, Mayaguana and Rum Cay, affecting the lives of an estimated 5,000 residents. Residents in those areas are still reeling from the devastation wrought by the category four storm.
On Sunday night, NEMA Director Captain Stephen Russell and a core team were on standby to continue to monitor the system and to keep the public abreast of the situation.
Newly designated hurricane shelters have been announced for those areas expected to be impacted. They are:
South Acklins: Spring Point Community Centre
North Acklins: Chester’s Hurricane Shelter
Central Acklins: Snug Corner Primary School
Crooked Island: Cripple Hill Church of God; Landrail Point Government Clinic; Cabbage Hill Primary School; Administrative Block in Colonel Hill High School.
Long Cay: Collie’s Apartment, Albert Town.
Rum Cay: St Christopher’s Anglican Church, Port Nelson
San Salvador: The Research Centre, United Estates; Idell Jones Centre, Cockburn Town.
Mayaguana: St James Baptist Church, Abrahams Bay; Betsy Bay Community Hall; BERA Mission Church, Pirates Well.
Inagua: St Philip’s Anglican Church and Zion Baptist Church, Mathew Town.
Long Island: Brethren Church, Seymours; St Joseph Catholic Church, Thompson Bay; Salem Baptist Church, Millers; Church of God, Doctor’s Creek; St Johns Anglican Church, Buckley’s; Clarence Town Community Centre.