Curaçao announces curfew due to tropical storm Bonnie

Dick Drayer

NOS News

Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire are preparing for the arrival of a tropical storm, which has the potential to reach hurricane strength. Curaçao announced a curfew last night, starting this afternoon at. 16.00 (local time).

The turbulent weather system is moving from the area east of Trinidad and Tobago towards the Dutch Caribbean islands. The harsh weather is expected to reach the islands next night. Wind speeds at that time are expected to be over 73 kilometers per hour, which is officially a tropical storm. He will then be named Bonnie.

The residents are not reassured and fill up with food and drink galore. They are doing so following a call from the government to prepare for the heavy and probably very wet weather of the coming days.

With 40 millimeters, large parts of Willemstad are usually already under water, this will certainly be the case now

Olav Geijs from Caribbean Weather Center on Curaçao

The Aruban government, meanwhile, has announced it will close schools tomorrow and Friday. The officials take themselves home the next afternoon. The board of Bonaire does not want to go that far yet, but the expectation is that they will follow the Aruban example just like Curaçao.

Many companies are expected to close their doors tomorrow. The largest hospital on Curaçao has just closed its entire operating program and canceled all outpatient visits. Only the emergency department will remain open during the passage of the storm.

extreme rain

It is almost certain that the islands will get into trouble. Not so much because of the strong wind, but mainly because of the rain. The infrastructure on the islands is not built for much rain; open drainage systems have been closed for years and annual calls from the public are ignored by the government.

Bonaire is currently trying to clean the open drainage systems, but it is not expected to be sufficient.

“We expect 75 to 125 millimeters of rain,” says Olav Geijs from the Caribbean Weather Center in Willemstad. That’s a fifth of what usually falls on an entire year on Curaçao. “With 40 millimeters, large parts of Willemstad are usually already under water, that will certainly be the case now.”

Exciting course

The course of the weather system is exceptional, especially so early in the hurricane season. “This is mainly due to the fact that there is a high-pressure area north of the Caribbean, which is pushing the course of the potential cyclone downwards. This is how it will remain for the time being,” says Geijs.

But Geijs doubts whether the tropical disturbance will be a hurricane. “The system is now moving west at a speed of 37 kilometers per hour. It is actually too fast to strengthen strongly in a short time. Only when the cyclone moves over the southwestern part of the Caribbean could this system develop into a hurricane. . “

That Hurricane hunter, a plane from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, flew through the center of the system yesterday and today, finding the wind speeds from a tropical storm but no closed circulation yet. “It is only when the system closes that it can increase in strength. The humidity and seawater temperature are favorable for the development of a cyclone, as well as less headwinds in the upper atmosphere,” says Geijs.

Are you predicting a severe hurricane season?

Whether the storm reaches hurricane strength is perhaps less important to the Dutch Caribbean islands than the exact route. The system may be moving between the islands and the Venezuelan coast. “If that scenario happens next night, it will be very wet on the three islands,” Geijs says. “Moreover, there is most wind in a tropical cyclone in the northern or northeastern part. On this course, that part will go just over the islands.”

Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao can wet their breasts, according to Geijs. “History shows that the early arrival of a severe tropical storm in June is an indication of a severe hurricane season. That was exactly the case in 2017, when Hurricane Irma swept over Sint Maarten.”

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