Tropical Storm Bill, the second named storm of the 2009 hurricane season, formed in the eastern Atlantic Saturday, and its forecast path puts it on the heels of Tropical Storm Ana, which is expected to rumble through the V.I. Monday.
A tropical storm warning was issued Saturday for the Dutch Antilles, including St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius. "It will be a strong tropical storm," meteorologist Luis Roma at the National Weather Service in San Juan said of Ana.
He said the storm is presently forecast to go right over the Virgin Islands. Tropical storm force winds extend outward 70 miles.
As of the 5 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Ana was located a little more than 800 miles east-southeast of the Leeward Islands. Winds were at 40 mph, with higher gusts, and some strengthening is expected over the next two days. It was moving west at 17 mph.
Don’t bother to drag your porch furniture and plants back out after Ana passes – Bill is expected to come near the V.I. later in the week. "It has a good chance of becoming a hurricane, possibly a significant one," Roma said.
The storm was located about 820 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands at 5 p.m. AST and was moving west near 16 mph, according to the hurricane center. Maximum sustained winds were at 40 mph with higher gusts, and Bill is forecast to strengthen. Tropical storm force winds extend out up to 30 miles.
Though still several days away, Bill’s forecast path takes it just north of the V.I. around Thursday.
To further upset the week, Roma said that another strong tropical wave is now coming off the African coast.
"The models have it close to the islands in a week or so. It’s going to be a busy week," Roma said.
Meanwhile, people around the territory are scrambling to get ready.
Robin Clair, manager at Estate Zootenvaal cottages on St. John, had called in her handyman to secure shutters and batten down the hatches.
She was expecting two sets of guests to arrive by Monday, but she said she’s calling them Saturday with the weather news.
"I’ll suggest they may want to come at another time," she said.
Government House is also at the ready. In a Saturday morning press release, V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency Director Mark Walters said the agency was ready to activate all of its emergency response mechanisms at a moment’s notice based on the projected forecast track of these two weather systems.
"The Virgin Islands is a community of resilient people who have for many years prepared for the threat of storm systems and just last October we prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Omar and came through the recovery with few scars," Walters said.
Boaters planning on taking their boats to Hurricane Hole will have to wait a bit, Rafe Boulon, chief of resource management at V.I. National Park, said Saturday.
He said that if Sunday’s 8 a.m. advisory indicates Tropical Storm Ana is still heading for the Virgin Islands, the park will open Hurricane Hole to boaters at that time.