Aug. 3, 2004 V. I. weather should start going downhill Wednesday evening as Tropical Depression 2 approaches, said Rafael Mojica, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan.
The territory remains on a tropical storm watch.
Forecasters think the storm, Tropical Storm Bonnie, will pass 170 miles south of St. Croix around 8 p.m. Wednesday. St. Croix will get more rain and wind than St. Thomas and St. John.
"And tomorrow will be raining," Mojica said.
He said the picture is looking a bit brighter than it did on Tuesday, the day Tropical Depression 2 formed. Meteorologists then thought it would pass closer to St. Croix.
Reconnaissance aircraft are scheduled to fly into the storm later Wednesday.
As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, Tropical Depression 2 was center at 13 degrees and 8 minutes North and 61 degrees and 5 minutes West or about 35 miles east of St. Lucia. Winds have reached 35 mph, with higher gusts. The storm was moving west at 25 mph, but is expected to start its turn to the west-northwest on Wednesday. The speed is expected to slow down, which could allow for strengthening. The barometric pressure stands at 29.83 inches or 1010 millibars.
On Tuesday, the V.I. National Park opened Hurricane Hole as a safe haven for boaters. The Planning and Natural Resources Department did the same at safe havens in St. Thomas and St. Croix. They include Benner Bay, Mandahl Pond and Flamingo Bay in St. Thomas and Water Island and Salt River and Christiansted Harbor in St. Croix.
Although the 2004 hurricane season was slow to start the first storm formed July 31 residents should keep in mind that Colorado State University forecaster William Gray has predicted the season will see 14 named storms, with eight becoming hurricanes. Of that eight, he predicts three will be intense hurricanes with winds over 111 mph.
There's still a long way to go until hurricane season ends on Nov. 30. The height of the season comes in mid-September, the period when the two most devastating storms to hit the Virgin Islands, Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, paid their unwelcome visit.
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