Rapid Intensification Caused Gonzalo to Veer Away

Hurricane Gonzalo’s rapid intensification caused it to veer away from the Virgin Islands, sparing the territory from what would have been the impact of a Category 1 hurricane, meteorologist Odalys Martinez at the National Weather Service in San Juan said Tuesday.

“At each advisory, the trajectory shifted to the northeast,” she said.

Since the worst of Gonzalo’s wind and rain were on the north side of the hurricane, each shift in the path kept the territory farther out of harm’s way. Martinez said that rapid intensification is a sign that storms will turn.

She said Gonzalo grew in intensity quickly because it was over warm water and impacted by an upper-level trough in the area.

Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas reported a wind gust of 35 mph at noon Monday, Martinez said. Weather Station Zephyr on St. John reported a 13 mph wind gust at 3 a.m. Tuesday.

As of the 11 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, Gonzalo had winds of 110 mph and was on a path for Bermuda.

While the territory got off lightly with Gonzalo, Martinez noted that earlier in the advisories forecasters expected the storm to come very close either as a strong tropical storm or a weak hurricane. She said these last-minute changes in the path are the reason residents need to prepare for the worst-case scenario while they still can. Once wind and rain picks up, it’s often too late.

According to Martinez, the rain that fell occasionally on Tuesday will clear the area by Wednesday. Residents can expect a few showers.

“But we’ll be returning to a normal pattern,” she said.

As for that low-pressure area located about 1,200 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, Martinez said it’s expected to turn north and remain over open waters.

So far this hurricane season, only Tropical Storm Bertha caused any problems for the territory. It arrived Aug. 2, the day of the primary election, but despite wind and rain, many voters made it to the polls.

September saw no storms or even threats.

October is halfway done, but hurricane season isn’t officially over until Nov. 30. Storms can and do hit in November. On Nov. 17, 1999, Hurricane Lenny came from the west, an unusual direction, and caused considerable damage. Tropical Storm Klaus came from the southwest, also an unlikely direction, on Nov. 7, 1984. It flung boats up on the St. Thomas waterfront and caused other damage.

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