The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tuesday afternoon ordered the closure of all non-essential government services by 5 p.m. and has urged private businesses to do the same as the nation prepares for the passage of Tropical Storm Don.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, in a radio address just before 3 p.m., noted that the tropical storm watch for SVG issued Monday evening had been upgraded overnight to a tropical storm warning, which remains in effect.

He said that based on information from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Meteorological Services, the country will be affected by moderate to heavy showers, gusty winds and rough seas Tuesday evening, continuing into Wednesday.

The government has ordered that all emergency shelters be activated at 6 p.m. to receive persons who need shelter.

“Of course, we always recommend that the first option is to stay with friends and family and if you are unable to make satisfactory arrangements with your friends and family, then you will go to the emergency shelter.”

He urged shelter managers to ensure that there are no slip-ups and that the shelters open by 6 p.m.

“Remember this, though the winds are not going to be very heavy, we are going to have moderate to heavy rainfall and we know the damage that rain has done to us recently with the landslides, the river overflowing their banks — all of these problems. We know the seriousness of these things. I don’t have to lecture you on these things. So just be very careful.”

Gonsalves said that the National Emergency Centre will be activated at 6 p.m. and ordered that the heads of all the sub-committee ensure that at least one member is present at all times at National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), where the NEC is headquartered.

Gonsalves urged all residents, and especially those in the Southern Grenadines, to be vigilant.

“In the Southern Grenadines, it is likely that you will experience storm force and gusty winds,” Gonsalves said, adding that in St. Vincent the main problem is expected to be the rain fall.

He urged fishermen to stay away from the sea and ensure that their boats are secured.

“Watch out for the children and don’t let them go into the sea. Watch out for the children all over the country and don’t have them go into the rivers. Please, when the rains start today, as is expected, into the night, be very careful.”

He said heavy showers are expected to affect the Southern Grenadines also.

“I want to repeat that residents in the areas that are prone to landslides and flooding, you are asked to take all necessary precaution because, as I repeat, heavy rains may results in flashfloods and landsides.”

He said that the SVG Met Services and NEMO will continue to monitor the passage of Tropical Storm Don and will provide regular updates.

“Do not take Tropical Storm Don for granted as the system will produce in certain parts of St. Vincent and the Grenadines gusty and storm force winds and moderate to heavy showers all about.”

He said he knows that some persons are looking outside while he is talking and saying that there is no rain falling.

“Believe me, we only can go with the best meteorological advice that we have and I have to give you a heads up early. It is better to be safe than to sorry. You can always say afterward that the Prime Minister shouldn’t have come on and tell us all of this because nothing has happened. Well, it is better to be safe than sorry. I can only tell you what is likely to happen, based on the current advice from the Meteorological Services.”

The Argyle International Airport also announced Tuesday afternoon that it will be closed from 3 p.m. until further advised by NEMO.

Met Servies 2 p.m. bulletin on Tropical Storm Don

At 2 p.m., centre of Tropical Storm Don was located near 11.5°N 58.7°W or about 216 miles (347km) to the Southeast of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Tropical Storm Don is moving towards the west at 20mph (31 km/h) and this motion is expected to continue through Wednesday. Maximum sustained winds decreased to 40 mph (64 km/h) with higher gust. Storm force winds extend outward up to 35miles, (55km) from the center. The estimated minimum central pressure is 1011 millibars…29.86 inches. Little change in strength is forecast before Don moves through the Windward Islands.

On its present track the center of tropical storm Don is expected to pass near the Southern Grenadines islands tonight into early Wednesday. Pockets of moderate to heavy showers, periods of rain and thunderstorms is forecast across St. Vincent and the Grenadines later today into tonight. Overcast skies and showers have started to affect the Southern Lesser Antilles and will continue into tonight. Rainfall accumulations of 2 to 3 inches (50 to 75 mm) are possible along the path of the system with higher amounts likely in the Grenadines.

In addition, occasional gusty winds to approximately 46mph (74km/h) are likely to spread across St. Vincent and the Grenadines, therefore, deterioration in sea conditions with swells of 2.5 to 3.0 meters (8 to 10 feet) to affect the east, north-east and south-east coastlines of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

These rains could produce life-threatening flash floods and landslides, especially in mountainous areas. Residents are advised to be vigilant and take all necessary precautions to protect life and property during the passage of this storm.

A high surf advisory and small craft warning are in effect for above normal sea swells