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HomeNewsArchivesOmar 'Racing Away,' Leaving Minimal Damage; Curfew Lifting

Omar 'Racing Away,' Leaving Minimal Damage; Curfew Lifting

Oct. 16, 2008 — “Whew” was the reaction of many V.I. residents Thursday when it became obvious that the territory had gotten off lightly when Hurricane Omar passed 10 to 20 miles east southeast of St. Croix. St. Croix got the brunt of the storm, with trees down, light structural damage and boats sunk.
"A wobble yesterday afternoon helped," said Brian Seeley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.
A curfew imposed because of the storm was scheduled to end at 11 a.m. Thursday, according to St. Thomas-St. John Police Chief Rodney Querrard.
At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, power was out across St. Croix, but on St. Thomas and St. John only sporadic locations still had no power.
V.I. Water and Power Authority spokesman Cassandra Dunn said that a problem in the field caused the St. Croix power plant to shut down at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Since weather conditions were worsening, WAPA decided to wait until morning to work on the problem. Dunn did not know when power would be restored to St. Croix, but said power to Juan F. Luis Hospital and other critical areas would have priority.
On St. Thomas and St. John, she said crews were checking for downed lines and blown transformers. When those problems were resolved, homes still without power would be hooked up.
Forecasters initially thought the storm's eye would go right over St. Croix with the northern islands of St. Thomas and St. John also feeling the effects from a Category 2 storm. However, the tracking map at wunderground.com shows Hurricane Omar as a Category 3 storm when it passed east southeast of St. Croix. It grew from a Category 1 to a Category 3, bypassing Category 2, as it headed toward the Virgin Islands.
The East End of St. Croix got the worst of the storm.
"The noise was tremendous," Linda Janes said.
Janes, who answered the phone at the Buccaneer Hotel, said the worst of the weather seemed to come between 11:30 p.m. and midnight Wednesday.
"It was really kicking up, and we got lots of rain," she said.
Looking out the window before dashing off to answer the phone, she said the Buccaneer's golf course was flooded.
Damage reports were difficult to get because many phones on St. Croix appeared not to be working, but Seeley said that he had reports that trees were down and buildings lost gutters when the wind blew them off.
The person who answered the phone at the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency building at Hermon Hill, St. Croix, said he was not authorized to give his name, but said that VITEMA staff were out doing damage assessments. Power was out, some older trees had succumbed to the storm's winds and the island experienced some flooding, he said.
"I need to get home and check on my family," he said.
Seeley had reports of four vessels sunk at the St. Croix Yacht Club, with another four to six washed ashore. The phone rang at the yacht club as well as at other businesses located on St. Croix's East End, but no one answered.
St. Thomas and St. John got mostly rain, with winds picking up for a short time around 1 a.m. Residents on St. Thomas and St. John had no reports of damage. However, water from heavy rains could be heard running downhill toward the sea in the Coral Bay area.
At Weather Station Zephyr, located above Coral Bay at Ajax Peak, the strongest gust came at 9:50 p.m. Wednesday. A total of 0.36 inches of rain fell between midnight and 7:30 a.m.
By the time residents got up Thursday morning, the sun peeked out. However, Seeley said resident should expect rainy skies through at least early Sunday, with dryer weather beginning Sunday afternoon.
As of 9:30 a.m. Thursday, power remained out at various locations around St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.
As of 8 a.m. Thursday, Hurricane Omar had winds of 125 mph and gusts to 155 mph.
The storm was centered at 19.1 degrees north latitude and 63.2 degrees west longitude. The barometric pressure stood at 964 millibars, or 28.46 inches. This puts the center of Hurricane Omar about 166 miles north northeast of the northern Leeward Islands.
The storm was moving northeast at 29 mph.
"It's racing away," Seeley said.

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Oct. 16, 2008 -- “Whew” was the reaction of many V.I. residents Thursday when it became obvious that the territory had gotten off lightly when Hurricane Omar passed 10 to 20 miles east southeast of St. Croix. St. Croix got the brunt of the storm, with trees down, light structural damage and boats sunk.
"A wobble yesterday afternoon helped," said Brian Seeley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.
A curfew imposed because of the storm was scheduled to end at 11 a.m. Thursday, according to St. Thomas-St. John Police Chief Rodney Querrard.
At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, power was out across St. Croix, but on St. Thomas and St. John only sporadic locations still had no power.
V.I. Water and Power Authority spokesman Cassandra Dunn said that a problem in the field caused the St. Croix power plant to shut down at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Since weather conditions were worsening, WAPA decided to wait until morning to work on the problem. Dunn did not know when power would be restored to St. Croix, but said power to Juan F. Luis Hospital and other critical areas would have priority.
On St. Thomas and St. John, she said crews were checking for downed lines and blown transformers. When those problems were resolved, homes still without power would be hooked up.
Forecasters initially thought the storm's eye would go right over St. Croix with the northern islands of St. Thomas and St. John also feeling the effects from a Category 2 storm. However, the tracking map at wunderground.com shows Hurricane Omar as a Category 3 storm when it passed east southeast of St. Croix. It grew from a Category 1 to a Category 3, bypassing Category 2, as it headed toward the Virgin Islands.
The East End of St. Croix got the worst of the storm.
"The noise was tremendous," Linda Janes said.
Janes, who answered the phone at the Buccaneer Hotel, said the worst of the weather seemed to come between 11:30 p.m. and midnight Wednesday.
"It was really kicking up, and we got lots of rain," she said.
Looking out the window before dashing off to answer the phone, she said the Buccaneer's golf course was flooded.
Damage reports were difficult to get because many phones on St. Croix appeared not to be working, but Seeley said that he had reports that trees were down and buildings lost gutters when the wind blew them off.
The person who answered the phone at the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency building at Hermon Hill, St. Croix, said he was not authorized to give his name, but said that VITEMA staff were out doing damage assessments. Power was out, some older trees had succumbed to the storm's winds and the island experienced some flooding, he said.
"I need to get home and check on my family," he said.
Seeley had reports of four vessels sunk at the St. Croix Yacht Club, with another four to six washed ashore. The phone rang at the yacht club as well as at other businesses located on St. Croix's East End, but no one answered.
St. Thomas and St. John got mostly rain, with winds picking up for a short time around 1 a.m. Residents on St. Thomas and St. John had no reports of damage. However, water from heavy rains could be heard running downhill toward the sea in the Coral Bay area.
At Weather Station Zephyr, located above Coral Bay at Ajax Peak, the strongest gust came at 9:50 p.m. Wednesday. A total of 0.36 inches of rain fell between midnight and 7:30 a.m.
By the time residents got up Thursday morning, the sun peeked out. However, Seeley said resident should expect rainy skies through at least early Sunday, with dryer weather beginning Sunday afternoon.
As of 9:30 a.m. Thursday, power remained out at various locations around St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.
As of 8 a.m. Thursday, Hurricane Omar had winds of 125 mph and gusts to 155 mph.
The storm was centered at 19.1 degrees north latitude and 63.2 degrees west longitude. The barometric pressure stood at 964 millibars, or 28.46 inches. This puts the center of Hurricane Omar about 166 miles north northeast of the northern Leeward Islands.
The storm was moving northeast at 29 mph.
"It's racing away," Seeley said.