St. Maarten is now under a Tropical Storm Warning which means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the next 24-hours or less.
Tropical Storm Erika is expected to pass very close to St. Maarten as a severe tropical storm. Residents should have their hurricane season preparations already in place and after having gone through the most recent experience with the passing of Hurricane Bill.
Due to the possibility of deteriorating weather conditions on Thursday; looking at the safety of pupils, teachers and parents, schools are to be closed on Thursday.
Contractors must secure building sites today. Lumber and other building materials should be properly stored away.
The Netherlands Antilles & Aruba Weather Service at 8.00am Wednesday morning reports that even though Erika has weakened a little, the system is expected to strengthen on Thursday.
Conditions that can be expected late tonight and intensifying from Thursday 2.00am are gusty winds especially in and near showers; shower and thunderstorm activity is to become more frequent and locally heavy tonight and especially on Thursday; expected heavy rains could last for quite some time causing street flooding.
The National Hurricane Center reports that Erika is expected to produce total rainfall of two to four inches during the next couple of days with possible isolated maximum amounts of six inches.
Boaters are required to seek safe haven and properly secure their sea craft. A small craft warning is in effect.
Residents are also advised to continue to monitor radio broadcast for official information coming from the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and for weather reports issued by the Netherlands Antilles & Aruba Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center.
A core group of the EOC met on Wednesday morning at 10.30am in the A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall. The next meeting is scheduled for 5.30pm on Wednesday where the latest advisory from the forecasters will be carefully analyzed.
At 11.00am Tropical Storm Erika was located 100 miles East South East of the Northern Leeward Islands.
Tropical Storm Erika on Tuesday at 11.00am had sustained wind speeds of 40 miles per hour with higher gusts; is moving West North West at 10 miles per hour. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 105 miles from the center of the system.