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Weather System Over Territory Expected to Become Tropical Storm

Oct. 13, 2008 — The bad weather hanging over the Virgin Islands since Sunday will become Tropical Storm Omar by the time it passes near the territory Wednesday.
"It could be strengthening into a hurricane as it moves over us," said meteorologist Brian Seeley at the National Weather Service in San Juan on Monday.
Tropical-storm watches were posted for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands at 5 p.m. Monday.
The center is expected to pass over Puerto Rico, but the Virgin Islands is going to get plenty of wet weather, said Ernesto Morales, another meteorologist at the National Weather Center in San Juan.
"It's going to be bad from now through Thursday," he said at 5:30 p.m. Monday. Morales expected the outer bands to start reaching St. Croix at about 7:30 p.m.
The system became Tropical Depression 15 at the 11 a.m. Monday update by the National Hurricane Center. It was still a tropical depression at the 5 p.m. update, but forecasters expect that to change.
As of the 5 p.m. update, Tropical Depression 15 had winds of 35 mph, with gusts to 45 mph. It was centered at 14.8 degrees north latitude and 69.9 degrees west longitude. This put it about 350 nautical miles southwest of St. Croix and 365 nautical miles southwest of St. Thomas.
The barometric pressure stood at 1,006 millibars or 29.70 inches.
The storm was nearly stationary, but Seeley said that all the models have the storm turning to the northeast and tracking toward Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Flash-flood warnings were posted through Wednesday.
While the territory saw some breaks in the weather Monday, with the sun peeking out occasionally, don't look for any improvements, Seeley said.
"When the heavy rain gets going, there could be landslides," he said.
Steve Parris, deputy director at the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, said at 4:30 p.m. Monday that St. Thomas and St. Croix have already had several mudslides.
"Public Works is out there now," Parris said. He urged residents to pay attention to areas around their house that flood.
The Police and Public Works Departments have asked the public to stay off roads unless there is an emergency, because some areas are flooded.
"Numerous areas on the island have flooded today, including Mandela Circle, Brookman Road and Subbase," said St. Thomas-St. John Police Chief Rodney Querrard. "Rocks have fallen in several roads."
The water had receded at Mandela Circle on St. Thomas and on Melvin Evans Highway on St. Croix since the rain let up, said Public Works Commissioner Daryl Smalls.
"Throughout the evening we will have emergency vehicles on the road, we will have our hands full," Smalls said. "We have teamed with our sister agency, the Waste Management Authority, and we are doing the best we can with the current rainfall, and what is expected tomorrow," he said.
Parris urged resident to make sure they have sufficient non-perishable food and other storm supplies on hand. Additionally, they should make sure their essential documents are in a secure place.
As word got around that a tropical storm was on the horizon, people began to prepare.
"We're seeing a steady flow," said Arnold Brown, front end supervisor at Cost-U-Less on St. Thomas.
Seaborne Airlines was only able to fly for about three quarters of the day Monday, said Omer ErSelcuk, the airline's president and chief executive officer.
"The waves in the harbor were horrific," he said, referring to St. Thomas Harbor.
ErSeluck anticipated the airline would fly a regular schedule Tuesday, but said that "Wednesday was probably not a good day to fly."
Because of the inclement weather, passengers may change their flights at no charge, he said.
On St. Thomas, the Frenchtown restaurant Hook, Line and Sinker stayed open all day Monday. Owners Becky and Ted Luscz are taking a wait and see attitude for the next few days.
"We've been through all that before," Becky Luscz said.
Tropical Depression Nana, located far out in the Atlantic Ocean, poses no threat to the Virgin Islands.
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