Except for some stiff winds and bouts of heavy rain,the territory pretty much dodged the bullet when it came to Tropical Storm Ernesto, which brushed by south of St. Croix late Friday and early Saturday.
In its wake comes Florence. Florence had been Tropical Depression Number 6 at the 11 p.m. Friday update, but by Saturday morning, she had been upgraded to Florence.
“At this point, it doesn’t look like it will be much of a problem,” Jose Alamo, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, said late Saturday afternoon.
On its current track, Florence will pass about 490 miles northeast of St. John around 5 p.m. Thursday, Alamo said.
As of 5 p.m. Saturday, Florence had winds of 50 mph and was moving west northwest at 15 mph. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from Florence’s center. The barometric pressure stood at 1001 millibars or 20.56 inches.
Florence’s center was located at 15.3 degrees north latitude and 31.7 degrees west longitude or about 515 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands.
Alamo said the storm is now entering an area hostile to its development because the waters are cooler and there is Saharan dust around. However, he said that forecasters expect the storm to slightly intensify to about 60 mph before decreasing in strength in a few days. He also said it should recurve to the northwest, keeping it away from the Virgin Islands.
Hurricane season has a long way to go until it’s officially over Nov. 30. This means there will be more waves heading west from the African coast. Alamo said there’s one about to come off the coast that bears watching.
“It looks as good as Florence, but if it moves as fast as Florence, it will get into the Saharan dust. We’ll have to wait and see,” he said.
As for Ernesto, Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas saw a maximum wind speed of 43 mph at 7:16 p.m. Friday. Rain totals hit .24 inches on Friday and .16 inches Saturday.
At St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, winds hit 43 mph at 12:35 a.m. Saturday. It had .21 inches of rain on Friday and .02 inches on Saturday.
Winds hit a high of 38 mph at Weather Station Zephyr, located at Ajax Peak, St. John, at around 12:30 a.m. Saturday. On Friday, a total of .28 inches of rain fell. Saturday saw .05 inches of rain.