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Schools Closed, Tropical Storm Omar Coming

Oct. 14, 2008 — Schools across the territory are closed Tuesday as the territory remains on a tropical-storm watch, but government workers should report to work.
"This decision was made after day-long consultation with the leadership of VITEMA and meteorologists at the National Weather Service," Gov. John deJongh Jr. said in a news release issued late Monday night.
The decision to close public schools on Tuesday took into consideration the inclement weather forecast for Monday night and Tuesday, the logistical challenges that involve movement of students from St. John to St. Thomas, and the availability of school-bus transportation during inclement weather, deJongh said.
The governor asked that principals, faculty and staff report at the usual time to secure their classrooms and the school campus before the anticipated effects of a tropical storm.
The territory experienced heavy rainfalls throughout Monday as Tropical Depression 15 lingered to the south. Heavy rains and gusty winds are also expected Tuesday afternoon as the outer bands of the storm approach the territory, but Tuesday morning won't be as rainy, said meteorologist Scott Stripling at the National Weather Service in San Juan.
"You're in kind of a dry spot," he said at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Stripling expects the storm to reach tropical-storm status late Tuesday. Its name will be Tropical Storm Omar.
St. Croix should start feeling the tropical storm Wednesday afternoon, with St. Thomas and St. John getting hit late Wednesday into Thursday.
"The wind will be from the south and the southeast, so the south coasts will be hit with some pretty high wave action," Stripling said.
The heavy rains will continue through Wednesday into Thursday, with rainfall reaching 10 to 20 inches in some parts of the Virgin Islands, Stripling said. He expects significant flooding and landslides across the territory.
Stripling urged boaters anchored on the west coast of St. Croix, in particular, to move their boats to safe harbors, because he expects that area to take some big blows. However, all mariners should seek safe havens.
As of the 5 a.m. Tuesday update, Tropical Depression 15 had winds of 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph. It was centered at 14.3 degrees north latitude and 69.2 degrees west longitude. The barometric pressure stood at 1,001 millibars or 29.55 inches.
The storm was moving southeast at 2 mph, but models have the storm turning to the northeast and tracking toward Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Flash-flood warnings were posted through Wednesday.
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