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Monday, September 26, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesMaria Fizzles, V.I. Starts to Get Back to Normal

Maria Fizzles, V.I. Starts to Get Back to Normal

Barely a tropical storm, Maria limped past the Virgin Islands late Saturday afternoon with its strongest winds well to the northeast, as various emergency measures in the territory gave way to a return to normalcy.

The National Hurricane Center lifted tropical storm warnings earlier in the day though a flash flood watch remains in effect for the Virgin Islands through Monday morning. The erratic, disorganized storm posed challenges for forecasters as well as government planners.

“But it speaks to the uncertainty of tropical weather systems, and we erred on the side of caution,” Government House spokesman Jean Greaux said.

The government lifted the planned 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday curfew and removed a price freeze. Greaux said that the state of emergency declared by Gov. John deJongh on Friday remains in place in case the storm intensifies or changes track yet again.

Both Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas and Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix are open, the V.I. Port Authority announced late Saturday afternoon.

However, VIPA Director Kenn Hobson said in a statement that all major airlines canceled flights on Saturday in anticipation of Tropical Storm Maria’s arrival. He said most commuter flights ceased operations by 11 a.m. Saturday because the airport was scheduled to close at noon.

Hobson advised the public to contact their airlines directly for flight information.

The press release indicated that all ports are open and that ferries were running normally. But the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency sent out a press release mid-afternoon that said ferries from Cruz Bay, St. John to Red Hook, St. Thomas would stop running at 5 p.m. Saturday. The last ferry from Red Hook to Cruz Bay was scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

The Carnival Victory reverted to its original itinerary and will visit Charlotte Amalie on Monday. The Carnival Dream and Carnival Freedom also plan to call on Charlotte Amalie on Tuesday.

Greaux of Government House said shelters opened by the Human Services Department and the American Red Cross were closing down.

The shelters are the Sugar Estate Head Start Center on St. Thomas, the St. Croix Educational Complex gym and Julius E. Sprauve School on St. John.

On St. Croix, Buck Island Reef National Monument and the Christiansted National Historic Site indicated after tropical storm warnings were lifted that they would both be open Sunday.

Regardless of Maria’s intensity, models continue to indicate plenty of moisture moving over the area during the weekend and early next week. Jose Alamo, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, said the heavier rains won’t fall on the Virgin Islands, but the territory will still get two to four inches of rain with six inches falling at higher elevations.

“Winds will be 25 mph with higher gusts for the northern Virgin Islands,” Alamo said.

As of 5 p.m., what remained of the center of Maria was passing over the northern Leeward Islands, according to the hurricane center, about 245 miles east of San Juan. Maximum sustained winds were at 45 mph, and the storm was moving generally northwest at 14 mph.

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