The tropical depression approaching Jamaica is expected to intensify to a tropical storm, bringing heavy rain this weekend. The Meteorological Service says Tropical Depression Nine continues to slowly strengthen as it moves across the Central Caribbean Sea and advances closer to Jamaica. A Severe Weather Alert remains in effect for the island. The Met Service says Jamaica and its territorial waters should begin to feel the effects of the severe weather system as early as midday on Saturday with an increase in showers and gusty winds, primarily over southern coastal areas. Rohan Brown, acting head of the Weather Branch, said banks and cays will get showers, thunderstorms and strong winds. The tropical depression is forecast to move over the waters south of Hispaniola on Saturday and move closer to Jamaica‘s southwestern coastline as a tropical storm on Sunday as it approaches the Cayman Islands. Mr. Brown, who was speaking Friday on the Morning Agenda on Power 106, said the system could strengthen even before Sunday as it has moved into a more conducive environment. He warned that as the system continues to move over the warmer waters of the Central Caribbean, it could become a tropical storm as early as Friday afternoon into evening. The National Hurricane Centre said the system could produce rainfall of up to 8 inches in Jamaica. Mr. Brown said, with the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season now at its peak in September, the rapid formation of more weather systems is anticipated. School emergency shelters Schools designated emergency shelters closed at 12:30 Friday afternoon as part of preparations for the severe weather system. The Ministry of Education and Youth said it has mobilised the emergency response teams at all public educational institutions on the advice of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). Minister Fayval Williams and the ministry’s senior executives on Thursday met with school administrators in preparation for the advancing weather system. Disaster Risk Management Council meets The readiness of emergency shelters across the island will be on the agenda when the National Disaster Risk Management Council meets Friday afternoon as Tropical Depression 9 approaches Jamaica. The meeting will be hosted by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and will involve various arms of Government. Roojae Kirlew, Chairman of the St. Catherine Disaster Preparedness Management and Safety Committee, said additional relief supplies are being procured as part of preparatory activities. He noted that the 62 shelters in St. Catherine are “up and running” and all shelter managers are on standby. He added that the final preparations for the inclement weather will be fine-tuned during Friday‘s meeting. Mr. Kirlew is also principal of Spanish Town Primary School, which is an emergency shelter. He said all shelters will be operated under strict health and safety protocols.