A tropical storm warning was issued for the Cayman Islands on Saturday and residents, many of whom had not removed the hurricane shutters from earlier storms this season, began preparing for the worst.
The system could become Tropical Storm Wilma on Sunday, which would make it the 21st named storm of the season, tying the record for the most storms in an Atlantic season, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. The only other time that many storms have formed since record keeping began 154 years ago was in 1933, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president and the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression.
At 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT), the tropical depression was located about 215 miles southeast of Grand Cayman and about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of Montego Bay, Jamaica, forecasters said. It was moving southwest at 3 mph (4.8 kph) with sustained winds near 30 mph (48 kph). Depressions become tropical storms when their winds reach 39 mph (63 kph).
Long term forecasts show the storm would likely move in a general westward direction for the next three days, then make a turn to the north, possibly as a hurricane with winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph).
A hurricane watch also was issued for the Cayman Islands, meaning that hurricane conditions could be felt within 36 hours. The warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 24 hours.
The depression is expected to produce rainfall of 3 to 5 inches (7.6 to 12.7 centimeters) over the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, with isolated totals of 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) possible, forecasters said.
In Jamaica, officials issued a flash flood warning for northwestern parts of the island.
Jamaica's office of the disaster preparedness said several businesses had been flooded in Montego Bay and in St. James parish, several people were flooded out of their homes, AP reports.
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