Hurricane Tomas moves away from the island, has Haiti in its sights

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Jamaica remains under a tropical Storm Warning even as Tomas, which has been upgraded to a Category One Hurricane, continues to move away from the island.

This means that tropical storm conditions, including possible gusty winds are expected within three to six hours.

In the latest bulletin from the Meteorological Service, issued at 4:00 a.m., Hurricane Tomas was about 150 kilometres or 90 miles south of Morant Point, Jamaica or 280 kilometres or 175 miles west-southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Tomas is moving towards the northeast near 15 kilometres per hour or 9 miles per hour and this general motion, with a further increase in forward speed, is expected over the next couple of days.

On the forecast track, the centre of Tomas will continue moving away from Jamaica and near southwestern Haiti Friday morning, before passing near extreme eastern Cuba Friday evening.

Maximum sustained winds of near 85 kilometres per hour or 50 miles per hour, with higher gusts are expected to strengthen during the next 48 hours.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 130 kilometres per hour or 80 miles per hour, with higher gusts, making Tomas a Category One hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Additional strengthening is possible before Tomas again begins to weaken on Saturday.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 30 kilometres or 18 miles from the centre, and tropical storm force winds extend outward as far as 220 kilometres/140 miles.

Jamaica could still, therefore, come under the influence of tropical storm force winds over sections of eastern parishes Friday morning.

Satellite imagery and radar reports indicate that the heavy showers and thunderstorms associated with Tomas continue to skirt the eastern tip of Jamaica; however, scattered showers are being detected over sections of central and western parishes.

These will rapidly decrease as drier air moves into the area behind Hurricane Tomas.

Small craft operators are reminded to remain in safe harbour until all warning messages have been lifted and wind and sea conditions have returned to normal.