A flash flood watch was issued Saturday for the U.S. Virgin Islands as a strong tropical wave bears down on the territory, bringing showers and wind by the evening.
According to the National Weather Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the flash flood watch will be in effect from early Sunday morning through Sunday evening, when the potential for flooding rains is highest. Rainfall totals between two and four inches are expected, with locally higher amounts possible.
"Localized flash flooding and landslides are likely in areas of persistent heavy rainfall," the NWS warned.
At 8 p.m. Saturday the wave, designated Invest 97L, was approaching the Lower Antilles and heading westward at 25 to 30 mph. While the associated shower activity has increased, the speed of the system makes further development unlikely, the weather service said. Surface observation satellite images showed a large and well-organized area of thunderstorms associated with the wave, but there were no signs of a surface circulation, and pressures were not falling significantly.
Across the regional, seas up to seven feet and east winds to 20 knots, or 23 miles per hour, are expected, and there is a moderate risk of rip currents for most of the beaches of St Croix.
The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency also warned of flooding and mudslides as well as hazardous marine conditions, and VITEMA Director Mona Barnes encouraged the public to monitor the system as it approaches the USVI tonight and be aware that urban and gut flooding is possible.
While immediate attention is focused on 97L, a second system that left the coast of Africa two days again is continuing its westward march across the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. As of 2 p.m. this system, designated Invest 96L, was located 500 miles southwest of Cabo Verde. It has grown less organized over the past 24 hours, and conditions across the Atlantic are not considered conducive for development. The National Hurricane Center estimated a 20 percent chance of cyclonic development in the next five days.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include information from the 8 p.m. Saturday National Hurricane Center report.