The National Hurricane Center is now rating Gert as a 100-knot hurricane, making it the fourth major hurricane of the 1999 season.
Aircraft exploration of the storm on Tuesday evening has provided a more detailed assessment of Gert.
The official forecast brings Gert to 120 knots in 24 hours, followed by a slight weakening. The 5 a.m. location was 17.6 degrees north and 48.5 degrees west with winds estimated at 110 knots. This places the storm about 750 miles to the east of Barbuda.
Projections have the storm passing to the north of the Virgin Islands at the end of the week. However, all forecasters warn that there is still time for large variations in the projected path of the storm.
Motion to the south of the expected course would bring Gert into a position to threaten the Lesser Antilles.
It is suggested that all residents continue to stay aware of the progress of this major hurricane.
Local coordinates are 18.3 degrees north and 65.0 degrees west for St. Thomas, and 17.7 degrees north and 64.8 degrees west for St. Croix. A degree equals 60 nautical miles, or a little more than 69 land miles.
To find the distance of a storm from your location in miles, multiply the difference in degrees by 69.
As an example, Gert at 5 a.m. was at 17.6 north and 48.5 west. To compare the storm's location with St. Croix ( 17.7 north and 64.8 west), multiply (17.7 – 17.6) = 0.1 times 69 equals 6.9 miles to the south of St. Croix while (64.8 – 48.5) = 16.3 times 69 equals 1,125 miles to the east of St. Croix. This math works best at latitudes close to the equator.
Editor's Note: For the latest updates on Hurricanes Floyd and Gert, click on the rainbow symbol in the upper left corner of the Source page.