Hurricane Earl nears Antigua and Barbuda

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Sunday, August 29, 2010 – Residents of Antigua and Barbuda and the rest of the Leeward Islands are bracing for what is now Hurricane Earl.

The twin-island nation is expecting the hurricane – carrying maximum sustained winds of about 75 miles per hour and located 225 miles east of Antigua at 11 am – to pass by this evening, into tonight and the early hours of tomorrow.

Leonard Josiah of the Antigua and Barbuda Met Office said the system will bring heavy rains, as much as eight inches.

“Earl is a well compact storm and the likelihood of intense rainfall to spread across Antigua and Barbuda is very high,” he said. “The likelihood for flooding is therefore going to be high also and we are asking individuals who are in low-lying areas, if you know that you are at risk, please move to higher ground because we do not want you to take the situation likely.”

As for the winds, Josiah said they will be intense as well.

“Based upon the forecast projection, we are anticipating that Earl’s maximum winds should be roughly about 85 miles per hour during it’s passage with wind speed gusting in excess of 100 miles per hour,” he said.

The VC Bird International Airport is scheduled to close at 3:45 pm, while the port suspended operations from noon. The airport is scheduled to reopen after 9 am tomorrow.

Regional airline LIAT has cancelled 42 flights as the hurricane hurries towards the Leeward Islands. (See complete list below)

Residents have been rushing to the gas stations and supermarkets to fill their vehicle tanks and stock up on supplies. Although the system has been approaching for the past few days, several people said they were caught off guard.

Hurricane Earl is expected to pass Antigua and Barbuda and be located over Anguilla sometime tomorrow afternoon. 

Hurricane warnings have been issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, St Martin, St Barthelemy, St Maarten, Saba, and St Eustatius.

Hurricane watches and tropical storm warnings are in effect for the British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

According to the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC), Earl is expected to get stronger during the next 48 hours and is forecast to become a major hurricane by Tuesday.

LIAT’s cancelled flights:

LI 500 – Antigua/Santo Domingo 

LI 501 – Santo Domingo/Antigua 

LI 553 – Anguilla/Antigua 

LI 766 – St Lucia/Antigua 

LI 317 – Nevis/Antigua 

LI 364 – Dominica/Antigua 

LI 508 – Antigua/St Maarten 

LI 557 – Antigua/Dominica 

LI 563 – Antigua/Dominica 

LI 508 – St Maarten/Tortola 

LI 544 – Antigua/Nevis 

LI 309 – Antigua/St Lucia 

LI 510 – Antigua/Tortola 

LI 368 – Antigua/Anguilla 

LI 558 – Dominica/Guadeloupe 

LI 787 – Barbados/Canouan 

LI 516 – Barbados/Antigua 

LI 544 – Nevis/St Kitts 

LI 509 – Tortola/St Maarten 

LI 545 – St Kitts/Antigua 

LI 558 – Guadeloupe/Antigua 

LI 368 – Anguilla/St Thomas 

LI 510 – Tortola/San Juan 

LI 509 – St Maarten/Antigua 

LI 311 – Antigua/St Vincent 

LI 367 – Antigua/Barbados 

LI 512 – Antigua/St Maarten 

LI 305 – Antigua/Port-of-Spain 

LI 329 – St Thomas/St Maarten 

LI 324 – Antigua/St Kitts 

LI 511 – San Juan/Antigua 

LI 512 – St Maarten/Tortola 

LI 324 – St Kitts/St Maarten 

LI 329 – St Maarten/St Kitts 

LI 770 – St Lucia/Antigua 

LI 325 – St Marten/Antigua 

LI 329 – St Kitts/Antigua 

LI 563 – Dominica/Barbados 

LI 516 – St Kitts/St Juan 

LI 364 – Barbados/Dominica 

LI 563 – San Juan/Antigua