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Overcast Likely, But Heavy Rains Should Be Ending

Sept. 22, 2008 — The worst of the rainy weather is over but don't look for any big improvement until Wednesday, local weather watchers said early Monday.
"It will be pretty gray with light to moderate rain and possibly thunderstorms late today," said Walter Snell, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan. "If there are any downpours, they will be brief."
A "pretty massive" tropical wave with an embedded low has been hanging around the area since late Saturday, he said.
He said the weather service can't recall any system this large that's lingered so long and dumped so much rain. While the Virgin Islands saw its share of downpours, the system has hit the southern part of Puerto Rico particularly hard.
The tropical low has been unable to develop into a depression while in the vicinity of the Virgin Islands because of extensive wind shear, Snell said.
However, that is likely to change and the system will probably strengthen soon. If it reaches tropical storm status, its name will be Kyle. Snell said the system, moving nearly due north, will be well away from the Virgin Islands by the time that happens.
At Weather Station Zephyr in Coral Bay, St. John, 1.05 inches of rain fell Sunday. Between midnight and 8:30 a.m. Monday, .06 inches of rain fell.
Since Sept. 1, 4.58 inches of rain fell at Weather Station Zephyr. This compares to 2.07 inches of rain for all of September 2007.
According to Snell, 10.52 inches of rain fell in St. Thomas so far this month. The figure stands at and 6.22 inches in St. Croix.
While residents are seeing their cisterns overflowing, waterfalls flowing and mold growing on their leather goods, U.S. Geological Service marine ecologist Caroline Rogers said the overcast and cooler weather could cool down local waters, a boon for the island's coral reefs.
"This is absolutely the peak time of the year to get bleaching," she said, referring to the normally warm water in mid-September.
While cooler waters may inhibit bleaching, the sediment flowing downhill into the island's bays can smother the reefs, Rogers said. Coral Bay, for example, is brown nearly to the mouth of the bay.
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