A Hurricane Watch is now in effect for Jamaica as Tropical Storm Tomas moves on a track that is forecast to take it close to the east coast as a Category 2 hurricane. This means that hurricane conditions pose a possible threat within 48 hours.
At 4:00 p.m. the centre of Tropical Storm Tomas was located near Latitude 13.5 degrees North, Longitude 74.6 degrees West; about 520 km (320 miles) south-southeast of Morant Point, Jamaica or 620 km (385 miles) south-southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Tomas continues to move towards the west near 22 km/h (14 mph) but a turn towards the west-northwest and northwest with a decrease in forward speed is expected during the next 48 hours.
Maximum sustained winds are near 65 km/h (40 mph), with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast and Tomas could regain hurricane strength by Thursday. Tropical Storm force winds extend outward up to 165 km (105 miles) from the centre.
Satellite imagery indicates that the area of showers and thunderstorms associated with Tomas has expanded over the past 6-12 hours. As the system slows down and strengthens during the next 48 hours, expect outer bands to start affecting southern and northeastern parishes of Jamaica. Tomas is expected to be closest to the island on Friday morning and there is a chance that hurricane force winds will be experienced over eastern sections of the country at that time. Above-normal wave heights should be expected over coastal areas of northern and southeastern parishes.
Northeasterly winds are forecast to increase to gale force over southern waters by Thursday and could gradually become near-northerly at hurricane force. All small craft, including fishers from the cays and banks, should now be arriving in port to start preparations for safe harbour.
The Meteorological Service continues to monitor the progress of this system, and all interests should pay special attention to further Releases.
The next Bulletin on Tropical Storm Tomas will be issued at 8:00 p.m. today.