St Lucia airport closed as Tropical Storm Chantal approaches

CASTRIES, St Lucia, Tuesday July 9, 2013 – The Government of St. Lucia closed the George F. Charles Airport midnight on Monday due the impending passage of Tropical Storm Chantal.

As a result the regional carrier,  LIAT has been forced to cancel several flights in and out of the island on Tuesday.

According to release from LIAT, an assessment will be made by the St. Lucian authorities at 11:00 am on Tuesday determine the time for reopening the airport.

Other precautionary measures have also been implemented as Tropical Storm Chantal approaches the Lesser Antilles.

At a pre-strike meeting of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) in St. Lucia on Monday, Police Commissioner Vernon Francois announced the cancellation of leave for police officers, with the exception of those on vacation leave.

During the meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony, it was also announced that all schools will be closed on Tuesday and will remain closed until Wednesday morning, unless advised otherwise.

In Barbados, local emergency services have been placed on full alert and the Department of Emergency Management activated the emergency operations centre at 9:30 pm and also open Category One shelters from 6:00 pm to facilitate persons who wish to shelter there.

Deputy Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Kerry Hinds told reporters at a pre-strike meeting, that public transportation provided by the Barbados Transport Board will operate its last service at 9 pm; however, the Grantley Adams International Airport and the seaport will remain open for service.

Acting Director of the Barbados Meteorological Services, Hampden Lovell said the island should expect rains, possible thunderstorms and storm force winds but noted that most of the heavy activity is concentrated in northern section of the system.

The National Hurricane Centre in its latest advisory said Tropical Storm Chantal is moving toward the west-northwest at 26 miles per hour and this general motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days.

The centre of Chantal is projected to reach the Lesser Antilles early Tuesday morning and move into the eastern Caribbean Sea later in the day and be near the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.

Maximum sustained winds are 50 miles per hour with higher gusts.

Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours.

A Tropical Storm warning is in effect for Barbados, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico, while a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Vieques and Culebra, the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the border with Haiti. Interests in Haiti and eastern Cuba have been advised to monitor the progress of Chantal. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)