Sept. 14, 2004 The weather will continue to go downhill on Tuesday evening as Tropical Storm Jeanne heads toward the Virgin Islands with winds of 60 mph with gusts to 70 mph.
"The worst weather will be in St. Croix," Brian Seeley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, said Tuesday evening.
He said the storm is expected to pass 40 miles due south of St. Croix at 10 p.m., but tropical storm conditions will begin spreading over the island as early as 8 p.m. Seeley said St. Croix will feel winds that fall just below hurricane strength. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when winds reach 74 mph.
Seely said he expects the winds to reach 40 to 50 mph at around 8 p.m. and 50 to 60 mph with gusts between 65 and 75 mph at midnight.
"That should be when the worst weather comes."
He predicted the winds will taper off to about 50 mph by 5 a.m. Wednesday.
St. Thomas and St. John will get lesser winds, but could see gusts that reach hurricane strength.
Rain will be an issue. Seeley expects St. Croix to get eight to 10 inches, with St. Thomas and St. John seeing about six inches of rain.
"Flooding could be a problem."
He said the seas will continue to build. Coastal surf watches and high surf advisories are posted.
The entire Virgin Islands went on a hurricane warning at the 5 p.m. update. The territory had been on a tropical storm warning.
Seeley warned that because the storm has wobbled throughout the day, residents should continue to monitor the storm in case it alters its course again. On Tuesday morning, forecasters thought it would track directly over St. Thomas.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Tropical Storm Jeanne was centered at 16.8 degrees north latitude and 63.9 degrees west longitude. This puts it about 85 miles southeast of St. Croix.
Tropical storm force winds extend outward 40 miles from the center.
The barometric pressure stands at 998 millibars or 29.47 inches.
The storm was moving toward the west-northwest at 10 mph.
Tropical Depression 11 grew to tropical storm status late Tuesday morning. The islands began to experience intermittent rain and wind by mid-morning.
Harold Baker, state director at the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, urged residents to keep tabs on the weather in case it changes track.
"And gas up your cars, take care of your pets, get your medications in," he said.
As the work day ended, residents got ready to hunker down. However, there was no run on supplies at Home Depot on St. Thomas.
"Right now, I'm not seeing any," manager Tracy Neille said around 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Home Depot was ready with a huge pile of plywood stacked outside its exit door.
Sal Sanpere at Olympic Car Rental on St. Croix was taking the storm lightly.
"Fifty miles an hour. It's no big deal," he said, likening the wind speed to what happens when he opens the window in his car while he's driving.
However, he did say that he'll put the furniture around his pool in a safe place and slide glass pocket doors into their pockets to protect them.
As news of Tropical Storm Jeanne circulated throughout the day, person after person remarked that if this was all they'd have to endure for this hurricane season, they'd consider themselves lucky.
Hurricane season is a long way from over. It runs until Nov. 30.
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