May 18, 2005 With two weeks to go until the official June 1 start of the Atlantic hurricane season, Tropical Storm Adrian is already threatening the Caribbean region. The storm formed Tuesday as the first tropical depression in the Eastern Pacific.
Forecasts have it heading eastward over Central American near Guatemala and El Salvador into the Caribbean Sea. Tropical Storm watches have been posted for coastal areas in those countries.
The current track takes it over Cuba and the Bahamas with the cone of uncertainly extending as southeast as the eastern end of the Dominican Republic and as far northeast as the southern tip of Florida. It doesn't appear that it will come close to the Virgin Islands, but this many days out, forecasts remain uncertain.
"On day three, four or five, it could have some influence on the local weather," Brad Diehl, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, said Wednesday.
He said to have a storm form in the Pacific Ocean, cross Central America and head into the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean is a very unusual occurrence.
Calling it Wrong Way Adrian, Diehl reminded V.I. residents that the late-season Hurricane Lenny came from the west in 1999 to hit the Virgin Islands.
Diehl said that if the storm remains organized when it hits the Caribbean, it will keep the name Adrian. If it falls apart, but reforms later and becomes the first named storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, it will be called Arlene. It may turn out that the Atlantic basin gets two storms that start with the letter A for this season.
After Arlene, names for 2005 include Bret, Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katrina, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince, and finally, Wilma.
As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, Tropical Storm Adrian winds hit 50 mph with gusts to 65. The storm was centered 11.1 degrees north latitude and 93.5 degrees west longitude. It was moving northeast at 8 mph. The barometric pressure stood at 1000 millibars or 29.52 inches. Tropical storm force winds extended out 45 miles.
Diehl said that two factors will influence the storm's future. For starters, Tropical Storm Adrian has to pass over 11,000-foot mountains in Central America, which could cause it to lose power. And, he said, there's a "big, sloppy low nearly stationary south of Jamaica and Cuba" that could also influence the tropical storm.
"There's so much uncertainty," he said.
Meanwhile, Harold Baker, state director of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, said that now is the time for residents to get ready for hurricane season.
"Start getting your canned goods together," he said.
He said this was the time to dispose of any debris in yards. He also said that people building houses should keep their construction materials in a central location so they can be more easily secured if a storm threatens.
Baker noted that while the territory has a lot of residents who haven't experienced disastrous hurricanes such as Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, some of those who did live through those storms have gotten complacent.
He advised residents to pay attention to the weather reports and read or listen to the local news for updates from VITEMA.
As for the current messy weather hanging overhead, Diehl said don't look for any improvements until Friday or even the weekend.
He said the potential for heavy rainfall will continue until then. Additionally, the territory remains on a flash flood watch.
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