Caribbean: “Earl” Watch

It's that time again: Hurricane season. And regional bloggers, having been affected by brutal storms in the past, are keeping a watchful eye on Hurricane Earl, which has now been classified as a Category 3 storm. Within the next 36 to 48 hours, it is expected to affect both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, among other islands.

Even as a new weather system forms off the Barbadian coast, Barbados Free Press is relieved that Earl has passed them by:

Hurricane Earl will make for wet Bajan weather for the next couple of days, but our neighbours to the North are taking quite a hit.

The good news for Barbados is that once again a hurricane missed our home. The bad news is that another storm is forming to the east and there is an 80% chance it will grow into a named storm within 48 hours.

It’s easy for Barbadians to become lulled into a false sense of security because we’ve been lucky or blessed for a long time as far as major hurricanes go.

Cuba, too, seems to have been spared; Havana Times writes:

Hurracane Earl has picked up steam on Monday morning as it crosses the northern Leeward Islands and heads for the Virgin Islands. It is not expected to threaten any part of Cuban territory.

Repeating Islands reports that the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Earl “was likely to keep growing”:

National Hurricane Center forecasters project the hurricane to remain offshore of the United States, passing through the open water between the U.S. and Bermuda from Wednesday through Friday…

So far, however, bloggers from the U.S. Virgin Islands have been the most active, perhaps because they are next in Earl's path. News of St. John says:

Home owners, villa managers, and business folk began preparations last Thursday, moving outdoor furniture inside and tying down what was left. By Friday evening, the sounds of hammering and nail guns could be heard, boarding up. StormCarib reports Monday flights out of St. Thomas have been canceled.

In another post, he uploads a video still and reports:

Earl slowed its forward motion overnight, delaying the arrival of its fury about 12 hours. Now the National Hurricane Center says the center of the storm will pass northeast of St. John at about 6 p.m.

Power's off in Cruz Bay. The St. John Spicecam quit transmitting at about 7 a.m. This is the last picture. Notice it's blurry. The camera was getting blown around. A surprising number of sailboats are still moored in the harbor. How many will be damaged and end up in the Beach Bar, literally?

A further update reveals that the “dingy dock in Cruz Bay's a goner.”

Meanwhile, fellow blogger Live De Life is battening down the hatches and preparing as best as possible for Earl's arrival, reporting:

We're feeling the outer edge of Earl this morning. Gusts of wind and hard rain. Power keeps going on and off. And now there is thunder and lightening. Luckily we do not have to go to work today.

We'll keep you posted as the day progresses.

News of St. John has been doing just that: the blog's latest posts report that “Earl is right over the island”; one update even includes a video “from St. John taken at about 8 a.m.”

Global Voices will post more storm updates as they become available.

The thumbnail image used in this post, “Hurricane Earl 1″, is by I Am Rob, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. Visit I Am Rob's flickr photostream.

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