Sept. 7, 2004 Hurricane Ivan is staying far enough south that the Virgin Islands on Tuesday morning was no longer in danger.
"It looks like it's going to pass a comfortable distance south," Scott Stripling, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, said.
He estimated it would track about 250 miles south of St. Croix around 3 a.m. Wednesday.
Hurricane Ivan stayed so far south because it maintained its westerly track. Stripling said a high-pressure ridge to the north stopped it from moving west northwest as forecasters expected. And its rapid speed across the Atlantic gave it momentum.
"It's harder to turn when it's moving that fast," Stripling said.
As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, Hurricane Ivan is moving west at a good clip of 18 mph, but Stripling said a gradual turn to the west-northwest and a slowing of its speed is starting to happen.
He said the territory should see high seas, intermittent rain and winds in the 25 to 30 mph range on Wednesday as Hurricane Ivan tracks to the south. He expects to post heavy surf advisories for south and east facing coasts later on Tuesday.
As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, Hurricane Ivan's winds are 110 mph with gusts to 135 mph. This puts it at the very high end of Category 3, but forecasters expect it to again become a Category 4. The storm has fluctuated in intensity as it made its way across the Atlantic Ocean.
Hurricane force winds extend outward 70 miles from the storm's center. Tropical storm force winds reach 160 miles.
Hurricane Ivan is centered at 11.4 degrees north latitude and 58.5 degrees west longitude. This puts it about 140 miles east of Tobago.
Hurricane Ivan's barometric pressure stands at 965 millibars or 28.49 inches.
While it appears certain the Virgin Islands will be spared the wrath of Hurricane Ivan, residents of the Grenadines aren't so lucky. Stripling said the storm is expected to pass directly over the chain of tiny islands that are part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He said it was very rare to see a system hit the Grenadines.
Stripling said Hurricane Ivan is tracking toward Jamaica, with its sights set on the U.S. mainland.
And since hurricane season is just approaching its mid-September peak, he warned Virgin Islands residents to stay tuned.
"It should not be a surprise to see more storms," he said.
He said a wave now located behind Hurricane Ivan is trying to develop.
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