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Storm warning for St. Vincent discontinued

Storm warning for St. Vincent discontinued

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The tropical storm warning for St. Vincent and the Grenadines issued 8 p.m. Thursday was discontinued Friday morning, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves announced shortly before daybreak.

“This means in effect that we return to business as usual. Government offices will open,” he said on radio, cancelling the day-off for state employees announced Thursday night.

Gonsalves further encouraged the private sector to conduct business as usual and commercial banks announced that they would open from 9 a.m.

The country’s five airports, which Gonsalves said Thursday night might be closed until 4 p.m. Friday, were expected to operate from 9 a.m.

Gonsalves, however, said the nation remains under a tropical storm watch even as some citizens had moved into emergency shelters.

A tropical storm warning is issued when an area could be affected by storm conditions within 48 hours.

U.S. National Hurricane Centre forecasters said at 8 a.m. Friday that Tropical Storm Ernesto was located 13.5 degrees North and 61.5 West about 40 miles (65km) west-south-west of St Lucia, about 25 miles (45 KM) west-north-west of St Vincent.

Maximum sustained winds were 45 miles per hour (75 km/h). The storm was moving West or 270 degrees at 24 miles per hour (39 km/h).

Trinidad had also discontinued its tropical storm watch for Grenada and its dependencies but a tropical storm warning continued for Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.

A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case within, the next 12 hours, forecasters say.

Ernesto is expected to strengthen before Sunday.

Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 115 miles (185 km) mainly to the north and east of the centre, forecasters further said.

Gonsalves, who is chair of the National Emergency Council, ordered on Thursday the activation of the National Emergency Operations Centre, located at the National Emergency Management Organisation’s headquarters.

He said the Centre, which operates 24-hours a day, will remain activated until the passage of the weather system.

“I want to say this: meteorology — weather watching — is not an exact science. And we have to make decision on the information, which is available, and it is better to be safe than to be sorry,” he said.

He urged residents to inform each other of the status of the storm.

“I am so grateful to Almighty God. He has listened and heard our prayers,” Gonsalves said.

Thursday night, the prime minister told residents to do what is necessary to protect their life and property if the storm does affect the country.

He said that wind of 45 miles per hour could do significant damage but also noted that continuous rainfall could trigger landslides, endangering life and property.

U.S. forecasters say total rainfall accumulations of 2 to 3 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 5 inches are expected across the Windward Islands through Friday.

Large waves generated by Ernesto will be affecting the tropical storm warning area Friday, they further said.

Residents of St. Vincent and the Grenadines can contact disaster managers and first responders at 458-6366 or 456-2975. (KXC)

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