BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Tropical Storm Bret with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (mph) was moving rapidly towards Trinidad and Grenada.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in its 5.00 pm (local time) bulletin said that the storm, the first named for the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was located about 125 miles south east of Trinidad and 225 miles south east of Grenada.
The center of the storm was located by an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft to be near latitude 9.4 North, longitude 59.8 West.
“Bret is moving toward the west-northwest near 30 mph and is expected to continue at a slightly slower speed over the next 48 hours. On the forecast track, the tropical storm is expected to move near or over Trinidad and the eastern coast of Venezuela tonight and early Tuesday,” the NHC added.
It said that maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph with higher gusts and that “little change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours”
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the center, mainly north of the center and a tropical storm warning has gone into effect for Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Venezuela from Pedernales to Cumana including Isla de Margarita.
A storm watch remains in effect for Bonaire, Curacao and aruba.
The Trinidad and Tobago government announced the closure of schools and Education Minister Anthony Garcia said “this is to ensure that the safety of our students, our teachers and all those who operate within our schools is maintained.
“So because of safety issues we are closing all schools in Trinidad and in Tobago,” he added.
Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young said “at this stage the Government’s position is that there should be no panic”.
“The OPDM (Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management) has been in constant communication with the necessary authorities including the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, the Met Office, the local and rural government, meaning all municipal corporations and other entities and State apparatus that would you expect to have to deal with a situation such as this,” he said on television here.
In Grenada, the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) said it is continuing to monitor the weather system and that the authorities have also announced that all schools will be closed Monday.
“Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the state of Grenada overnight Monday into Tuesday morning with moderate to strong convection and thundershowers. The disturbance is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 50 to 125 millimeters over the Windward Islands,’ NaDMA said.
It urged people, particularly in the south of the island and those living in flood prone areas to be especially vigilant, adding “if you have not yet done so, it is a good time to ensure that all drains and water ways around your property are cleared from all obstructions and that you have in place your hurricane plan and preparedness kit.”
The Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL) announced the cancellations of several domestic, regional and international flights.