Jan. 5, 2005 If you thought the last few years have been rainier than usual, you may be right. However, the yearly totals are up in 2004 because the Virgin Islands was brushed with a couple of storms during hurricane season. In 2003, the territory suffered from a major rain in November that caused mud slides and widespread flooding.
"That's enough to knock 'normal' way over," Walter Snell, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, said.
He said the annual average for the Virgin Islands stands at 37.87 inches per year. In 2004, 47.68 inches fell, putting the figure 9.81 inches above normal. In 2003, the total hit 43.35 inches. These totals are for St. Thomas, which is what Snell had available.
Looking at monthly totals for January, November and December 2004, the National Weather Service Web site shows the figures were above average in St. Thomas, but lower for St. Croix in January and November. The December 2004 data is missing for St. Croix.
The long-term average for November on St. Thomas stands at 5.70. In November 2004, 5.86 inches fell. The December average is 2.95 inches, but 3.42 inches fell. The January average runs 1.86 inches, but in January 2004, the total hit 2.13 inches.
On St. Croix, the long-term November average is 6.51 inches. In November 2004, the total ran 6.08 inches. The December average runs 3.39 inches. The December 2004 data for St. Croix lists the St. Thomas figures so no numbers are available. The January average in 2.06 inches, but in January 2004, the rainfall was only 1.60 inches.
Looking ahead, Snell said that there's a 50 percent chance of rain Wednesday and Wednesday night, with the percentage dropping to 30 percent Thursday. On Friday, look for a 40 percent chance of rain.
"It's the cool, moist flow off a high-pressure and a low-pressure system," Snell said.
Snell said Virgin Islands residents and tourists should watch for large swells, particularly on the north side of the islands. He expects them to last through Sunday.
"And even the Caribbean could be a little rough," he said.
He said swimmers should watch out for rip tides. He said they often happen during high swells. He said that if you get caught, swim parallel to the beach to escape before heading in to shore.
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