Tropical Storm Irene passes island at a safe distance

St. Maarten – By three o’clock yesterday afternoon the worst of the bad weather tropical storm Irene brought to the island was over, but in the early hours of Sunday morning it brought such heavy rainfall that the department of disaster management issued a warning to residents to keep off the roads.
Low lying areas like the center of Dutch Quarter were completely flooded and made driving a hazardous enterprise.
At two thirty yesterday afternoon the department of communications reported that Irene was moving away from our area. According to Stormpulse, the storm was at that moment located 58 miles to the southwest of St. Maarten and traveling at a speed of 18 miles per hour towards Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
At five o’clock the tropical storm warning for St. Maarten ended. At that moment, the storm was 92 miles west of the island and moving away at a speed of 17 miles per hour. A small craft advisory remained in place until this morning six o’clock. Today is a normal school and business day.
Early on Sunday morning the storm system seemed to have move closer to St. Maarten. It had gained strength during the night and followed a course further north, though it was at that time still expected to remain well south of our island.
The Meteorological Department in Curacao forecasted winds of tropical storm force, with gusts of up to 60 miles per hour, and rough seas with waves building up to ten feet.
The disaster management department predicted rainfall of between 4 and 7 inches (10 to almost 18 centimeters) and warned motorists to look out for street flooding and falling rocks.
At twelve thirty, the department advised motorists to keep off the roads and asked residents to secure their garbage bins, after several bins had ended up on the roads where they posed a hazard to traffic.
The airport remained open during the heavy rainfall, and decisions about possible school closures were under consideration. However, the Dutch side was not under curfew.
The National Hurricane center reported yesterday afternoon the formation of a new area of low pressure, 200 miles west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands. It produced widespread cloudiness and scattered showers. Because the system is moving in northwest direction over cooler waters, further development is unlikely, the Hurricane center reported, adding that there is a low chance (10 percent) that the system will become a tropical storm by 2 p.m. tomorrow.