KINGSTON, Jamaica, August 16, 2021 - As Tropical storm Grace meanders its way through the northern Caribbean, "torrential rains" fell over portions of Haiti and the Dominican Republic Monday night as Grace takes aim at Jamaica and Cuba on Tuesday.
Still reeling from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck over the weekend, residents and rescue teams in Haiti now face a looming tropical threat from Grace's heavy rains, hampering rescue efforts from Saturday's temblor which killed over 1,200 people, injured 5,700 others and destroyed thousands of homes.
A Tropical storm watch continues for Haiti as well as portions of Cuba and Jamaica in anticipation of Grace's impact. Tropical storm warnings are also in effect for portions of Cuba and the Cayman Islands.
Swirling as a tropical depression as of Monday evening, Grace packed the potential to induce widespread flooding and mudslides with its heavy rainfall over Hispaniola. By Tuesday, these hazards will threaten Jamaica and far southern Cuba.
As of 8 p.m. EDT Monday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) stated that the center of Grace was 60 miles to the southwest of Port au Prince, Haiti, with the storm's movement at 13 mph to the west-northwest.
Grace is forecast to continue its westward movement through Tuesday, putting it on a path along the southeastern coast of Haiti into Monday night before weaving between Jamaica and southern Cuba on Tuesday.
"Wind shear and land interaction will make for only gradual strengthening over the next day or two. As Grace moves closer to the Yucatan, more open water and lessening wind shear may then allow for more strengthening and Grace could reach hurricane strength before reaching the Yucatan early Thursday.” AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda said.
"Heavy rain and gusty winds can lead to flooding as well as downed trees and power lines across the northern Caribbean, but with the center of Grace largely remaining over water, wind damage should remain relatively minor," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty said.
Widespread rainfall amounts of over 2 inches (50 mm) are anticipated across the region, with a corridor of heavier rain from the southern tier of Hispaniola to Jamaica, where 4-8 inches (100-200 mm) of rain are possible.
Southern Haiti is included in the area at risk for more than 4 inches (100 mm) of rainfall, inhibiting earthquake cleanup and rescue efforts.
Tropical downpours and gusty winds will spread over Jamaica and the southern tier of Cuba on Tuesday.
Grace is expected to pour heavy rain and the risk of flooding is likely to be the storm's most widespread impact on the islands.
Wind gusts of 40-60 mph (60-100 km/h) are possible across the region, which can snap tree branches, down power lines and turn loose outdoor items into potentially deadly projectiles.
Later this week, Grace is expected to emerge in the western Caribbean Sea and threaten Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
Grace is expected to regain tropical storm status by this time but could be an even stronger storm, forecasters say.
Beyond the Yucatan Peninsula, it is possible that Grace's circulation remains intact enough for the storm to survive across the southern Gulf of Mexico and perhaps strengthen further. Waters in this region are sufficiently warm to promote the strengthening of a tropical system.