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Saturday, July 20, 2024


Virgin Islanders awoke Wednesday morning to what appeared to be good news: Hurricane Jose took an unexpected turn northward overnight and was projected to move away from the upper Leeward Islands. However, while it appeared the territory would be spared a direct hit by the storm, weather and emergency services officials warned residents not to let down their guard.
The National Weather Service reported hurricane’s center at 17.1 degrees north latitude and 61.5 degrees west longitude as of 11 a.m., very clost to Antigua and about 250 miles southeast of the Virgin Islands. Movement was continuing toward the northwest at 12 mph, with no significant change expected over the next 24 hours. Maximum sustained winds have increased to 90 mph, mainly in a small area near the storm center, boosting Jose to a Category 2 hurricane.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull declared a state of emergency in the territory on Tuesday, a standard procedure to activate a quick response, if needed, by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and instituted a curfew to take effect at 3 p.m. today and remain in effect until lifted. However, shortly after 10 a.m. today, Turnbull announced that the curfew would not take effect until 6 p.m.
Outer rain bands from Jose with sustained winds increasing to 35 to 50 mph and higher gusts are expected to begin striking the territory shortly. Sustained winds are projected to reach 40 to 60 mph by 9 p.m., peak at around 50 to 60 mph on St. John and St. Thomas around 2 a.m. Thursday and then begin to abate.
Higher gusts can be expected especially over islands with higher elevations, and further strengthening is forecast in the next 24 hours. Rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches are expected along Jose’s path, with higher rainfall possible over mountainous areas.
Roy Ward, weather consultant to Radio One News, said Jose’s 5 a.m. position continued the change in direction away from a northwesterly course that was first noticed at 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Ward, a former VITEMA official, said the change in Jose’s direction was a result of the effects of a high-pressure ridge off the U.S. East Coast affected by temperature changes. At least for the moment, "In essence, it has brought the territory out of harm’s way," he said.
However, while saying he was "cautiously optimistic" that Jose’s center would pass north of the territory, Ward urged Virgin Islanders, "Do not lift your guard. If you were planning to complete your preparations for the hurricane this morning, continue to do so."
The National Weather Service reported that tides will be higher than normal today and will be accompanied by "large and dangerous battering waves." A heavy surf advisory remains in effect, and the territory’s ports have been closed to ships over 100 tons. Ward advised boaters, "Do not venture into the water."
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from Jose’s center, and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles. The estimated minimum central pressure at 11 a.m. was 978 mb or 28.88 inches.
A hurricane warning remains in effect for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as well as for Puerto Rico, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Eustatius, Saba, Dutch Sint Maarten and Anguilla. A hurricane watch issued by the French government continues for Martinique, St. Martin and St. Barth’s.

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