Sept. 15, 2004 On the ninth anniversary of devastating Hurricane Marilyn, Virgin Islands residents again saw bad weather as Tropical Storm Jeanne passed through the area. This time, forecasters think the storm will create only inconveniences and a day off for government and other workers. Forecasters expect wind and heavy rains to continue throughout the afternoon as Tropical Storm Jeanne heads toward Puerto Rico.
"It could make a hurricane in the next hour or two," Brian Seeley, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, said at 11 a.m.
While the circulation's center has passed St. Croix, a big band just to the east of St. Croix will create stormy conditions for the entire territory.
Seeley expects wind gusts to reach 50 to 60 mph on St. Croix through the early afternoon, with St. Thomas and St. John seeing gusts a bit lower.
The chance of flooding will increase as the ground becomes saturated.
As of 11 a.m., Tropical Storm Jeanne had winds of 70 mph with gusts to 85 mph.
The storm was centered at 17.8 degrees north latitude and 65.8 degrees west longitude. This puts it about 65 miles west of St. Croix.
Tropical storm force winds extend outward 60 miles from the center.
The barometric pressure stands at 991 millibars or 29.25 inches.
The storm was moving toward the west-northwest at 8 mph.
A hurricane warning remains in place for the U.S. Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands is on a hurricane watch.
Harold Baker, who serves as state director of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, said all roads were passable on St. Thomas and St. John. He said there was some flooding at low-lying places like Mandela Circle on St. Thomas, but the water was being absorbed.
St. Croix hasn't fared as well. Baker said preliminary reports indicate parts of the island lost power, but some residents said they thought the power outage affected all of St. Croix. At 8 a.m. Glenn Rothgeb, Water and Power Authority spokesman, had said the power outages were the result of line damage.
"Emergency crews are out now," Baker said at 11:15 a.m.
He said Public Works Department crews were cleaning downed trees and debris off the road.
Chris Goodier, her husband Bob, and their dog Misty, were waiting out the storm in their East End St. Croix home. They put up their hurricane shutters, but about two inches of water flowed in anyway.
"We really got the blast from the east," Chris said.
Goodier said that as the water rose, they hauled Misty out from her refuge under the bed to a dry spot on top of the bed.
While Tropical Storm Jeanne put a damper on the day, Goodier said at least her cistern filled.
At Caneel Bay Resort in St. John, Rik Blyth, general manager, said at 10:30 a.m. that the hotel's 100 guests were busy eating breakfast.
"And we've got a rainy day program," he said, adding that it included movies and board games in the afternoon.
He said he let the guests knew on Tuesday that Tropical Storm Jeanne was coming, so they went to Cruz Bay to do their shopping since they knew stores would be closed on Wednesday.
Blyth said that some guests were stuck at the hotel because airports in St. Thomas and Puerto Rico are closed.
Historically, this week has been the worst in recent hurricane history. Hurricane Marilyn hit on Sept. 15 and 16, 1995 and Hurricane Hugo attacked on Sept. 17 and 18, 1989. Friday and Saturday will mark Hurricane Hugo's 15th anniversary.
And now we have Tropical Storm Jeanne to add to the list.
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