Aug. 30, 2002 – It's too soon to tell if Tropical Storm Dolly will approach the Virgin Islands, according to Ed Tirado, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in San Juan. However, if it doesn't turn northeast, it will probably arrive in the territory on Wednesday.
On Friday, the storm grew in intensity, with sustained winds increasing from 50 mph to 65 mph between the 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. updates. However, at the 5 p.m. update, the speed had dropped to 60 mph with gusts up to 70 mph.
Tirado said forecasters couldn't explain the decrease in speed, since the wind shear remains low in Dolly's area. He said the decrease might have come from normal "diurnal" reasons, meaning that the speed drops during daylight hours but intensifies at night. Forecasters continue to expect Dolly to intensify further.
At 5 p.m. Friday, the storm was centered at 10.6 degrees north latitude and 38.8 degrees west longitude, about 1,480 miles east of the Windward Islands. Tropical storm-force winds extended outward for 85 miles and Dolly was moving westward at 18 mph. The barometric pressure stood at 29.52 inches.
V.I. residents are keeping a watchful eye on the storm's developments. St. John resident Kathy Demar, who had planned to fly to New Orleans on Tuesday, said she's now waiting to see if the storm is heading for the territory before deciding whether to travel. "We'll decide by Sunday," she said.
Demar, who manages vacation villas, said she has already secured all of the houses that have no visitors. Four families are scheduled to leave this weekend, she said, and she and her husband will close those homes up after their departure. Two groups are due to arrive this weekend, and she said she'll decide as the storm comes closer whether to cancel their vacations.
Tropical Storm Dolly formed Thursday as Tropical Depression 4 off the Cape Verde Islands. Crossing the Atlantic, it quickly escalated in wind intensity, passing the threshold of 39 mph to quality as a tropical storm.
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