As most territorial residents slept, the huge and powerful Hurricane Igor Tuesday began its turn to the west-northwest after maintaining a steady westward course for many days.
Forecasters predict Igor will turn to the northwest later Tuesday or Wednesday, sparing the Virgin Islands an impact from the hurricane. Igor is currently moving west-northwest at 8 mph.
“I am confident. Don’t worry about the winds and the showers,” Jesus Figueroa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan, said at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.
According to Figueroa, a weakness in the high pressure to the north of Igor is allowing the hurricane to finally start turning.
The forecast has Igor passing about 450 miles to the northeast of the northern Virgin Islands Thursday morning, Figueroa said.
While the territory may not get wind and rain from Igor, it will see heavy swells. Figueroa said they should start arriving Tuesday night and continue into Friday or Saturday. Figueroa said that he expects to issue a high surf advisory later Tuesday. He also said that a coastal flood watch could go up later in the week.
The Category 4 hurricane is packing winds of 135 mph with gusts to 160 mph. Tropical storm force winds extend outward 195 miles from the center, with hurricane winds reaching 50 miles outward.
As of the 5 a.m. Tuesday update, the center of Igor is at 17.9 degrees north latitude and 51.7 degrees west longitude. This puts it about 750 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands.
The barometric pressure stands at 945 millibars or 27.9 inches.
Hurricane Julia, which reached Category 1 status overnight, never was a worry for territorial residents. The storm headed west northwest almost from the start. At 5 a.m. Julia is located at 16.1 degrees north latitude and 29 degrees west longitude. It’s moving west northwest at 12 mph, Winds stand at 75 mph with gusts to 90 mph. The barometric pressure is 987 millibars or 29.14 inches.
The climatological height of hurricane season occurred just last week on Sept. 10, but there are still many weeks to go until the official season end on Nov. 30.
And longtime residents will recall that Sept. 15 and 16 marks the 15th anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Marilyn.
Sept. 17 and 18 is the 21st anniversary of the equally horrible Hurricane Hugo.