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HomeNewsArchivesHurricane’s Proximity Prompts Tropical Storm Watch

Hurricane’s Proximity Prompts Tropical Storm Watch

Aug. 16, 2007 — While it appears the Virgin Islands will be spared the brunt of Hurricane Dean, its path is close enough that officials issued a tropical storm watch at 5 p.m. Thursday.
The hurricane is expected to pass 120 miles south of St. Croix early Friday afternoon, said Walter Snell, a meteorologist at the National Weather Center in San Juan.
"It's way to close for comfort,” Snell said. “If it expands or moves north …."
Tropical storm-force winds extend 150 miles out from the center of the storm.
"It's those facts and the fact that it's starting to build" that triggered the tropical storm watch, according to acting V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency Director Steve Parris. When Dean passes south of St. Croix, it will be as a Category 2 or 3 hurricane, he said.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the storm was centered at 14 degrees north latitude and 56.5 degrees west longitude, or about 210 miles east-northeast of Barbados and about 305 miles east of Martinique. Winds were at 100 mph with gusts to 115 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended out 15 miles from the center, and it was moving to the west at 23 mph. The barometric pressure stood at 979 millibars, or 28.90 inches.
While the Virgin Islands won't get the brunt of the storm, residents across the territory can still expect to see rain, thunderstorms and wind gusts of up to 58 mph, officials said.
Because St. Croix is closer to the storm, it will see more severe conditions than the rest of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Snell said. A high-surf advisory has been issued for the southeast coasts of all the Virgin Islands starting at noon Friday. It will run to 2 p.m. Saturday.
V.I. National Park will remain open Friday with all visitor services operational, but will remain in a state of readiness should Hurricane Dean threaten, according to Mark Marschall, chief of enforcement at V.I. National Park on St. John.
While the territory is getting off easy, islands to the south aren't so lucky. They're already feeling the effects of the storm.
"Martinique is right in the path," Snell said.
Hurricane warnings have been issued for Martinique, Guadeloupe and its dependencies. Hurricane warnings remain in effect for the islands of Dominica and St. Lucia.
Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Grenada and its dependencies, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Saba, St. Eustatius, Montserrat, Antigua, Nevis, St. Kitts, Barbuda and St. Maarten.
Other systems far out in the Atlantic also bear watching, Snell said. One system in the eastern tropical Atlantic looks like it will start developing by Tuesday.
"We're not off the hook yet," he said.
The Health Department sent out a press release reminding residents to prepare disaster kits for use in their home or if they need to evacuate to a shelter. The kits should cover six basic needs: water, food, first-aid supplies and medications, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies and important family documents.
The Health Department advised residents to keep loose items in airtight plastic bags and gather them in easy-to-carry containers or duffel bags. Put the kits within reach of the most often used exit of your home. And check and update the kit and family needs at least once a year.
The Health Department issued the following tips for water and food supplies. It recommends that residents have on hand a three-day supply of food and water. Plan on one gallon of water per person per day; ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables; staples such as salt, sugar, pepper, spices and others; powdered milk and canned juices; high-energy snacks and comfort/stress foods; food for infants and individuals with special needs; Pedialyte to restore hydration if needed; mess kits or paper cups; plates and plastic utensils; and a non-electric can opener or utility knife.
Plan on at least two quarts of water daily for normally active people. Heat and intense activity can double this amount. Children, nursing mothers and those with special needs may require more.
Food preparation and sanitation require another two quarts minimum per person daily.
Purchased bottled water that has been sealed is best for storage. It meets U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines for food, is not as vulnerable to temperature changes as unsealed water and lasts indefinitely. While some bottles do have expiration dates, it is mainly for inventory control. To disinfect water, use unscented bleach in the ratio of 8 drops per gallon, which is about an eighth of a teaspoon, and let the mixture sit 30 minutes before use.
Choose compact, lightweight foods that do not require refrigeration, cooking or preparation, as well as foods that use little or no water.
Hand washing with soap and water is extremely important. However, in the event water for hand washing is unavailable, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
The Health Department recommends residents have on hand cash or travelers checks, coins, map of the area for locating shelters, battery-operated radio and flashlights with extra batteries, a fire extinguisher, pliers and shut-off wrench to turn off household water and gas.
Additionally, the Health Department suggests having on hand a compass, signal flare, whistle and tube tent.
Other items to include are plastic sheeting; storage containers and a bucket with a tight lid; plastic garbage bags and ties for sanitation; duct or masking tape; candles and matches in a waterproof container; paper, pencil, needles, thread, medicine dropper, aluminum foil, toilet paper; moistened towelettes and towels; soap, liquid detergent, disinfectant, unscented household chlorine bleach, feminine supplies and personal hygiene items; as well as infant supplies such as diapers, bottles and pacifiers.
The Health Department also recommends at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person, sturdy shoes, work boots, hats and gloves, blankets or sleeping bags and pillows, rain gear, and extra prescription glasses, sunglasses and/or contact lenses.
Include a three-day supply of each person's vital medications; prescription drugs; sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes; four to six two-inch and four-inch sterile gauze pads; three rolls of two-inch and three-inch sterile roller bandages; three triangular bandages; at least two pairs of latex gloves; cleansing agent, soap and moistened towelette; antiseptic and antibiotic ointment; petroleum jelly or other lubricant; assorted sizes of safety pins, scissors, tweezers, needle and thermometer; tongue depressors; non-prescription drugs; aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever; anti-diarrhea medication; antacids and laxatives; syrup of Ipecac to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center; activated charcoal to use if advised by the Poison Control Center; sunscreen; and mosquito repellent with DEET when appropriate.
Keep the following important family documents in a waterproof, portable container: insurance policies; contracts and deeds; stocks and bonds; Social Security cards and passports; immunization records and prescriptions; bank account numbers; credit card account numbers and company names and telephone numbers; inventory of valuable household goods; birth, marriage, death certificates and wills; and current photographs of family members.
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