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GRAY PREDICTION DOWN AS HURRICANE SEASON PEAKS

Sept. 2, 2002 – Virgin Islands residents have two items of good news to brighten their Monday Labor Day holiday. For starters, Tropical Storm Dolly is starting to turn northward and appears to pose no threat to the Caribbean.
And second, Colorado State University forecaster William Gray has again cut the number of named storms he expects to develop during this hurricane season.
A month ago, he predicted nine. On Monday, he said he expects eight to develop.
With the fifth named storm of the season, Tropical Storm Edouard, churning off the East Coast of the United States, this leaves only three more to go if Gray and his team are accurate.
Gray also cut the number of hurricanes he expects to develop from those tropical storms from four to three. The number of intense hurricanes -– those with winds over 111 mph –- remains the same, at one.
For the first time this year, Gray is issuing a September only forecast. He expects the number of named storms in September to be three, with two of them escalating into hurricanes. He thinks one will be an intense hurricane.
The long-term average stands at 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes per year.
Since his initial 2002 prediction on Dec. 7, 2001, Gray has continued to downgrade his forecast. He originally predicted 13 storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes. He said in his report that, while he anticipated a more active season earlier in the year, a sharp increase in conditions that inhibit hurricanes during the last four months changed his mind. He expects those conditions — below average sea surface temperatures, above-average sea-level pressure, above-average strength of easterly trade winds, a strengthening El Niño, and, most importantly, stronger than average upper tropospheric westerly winds throughout the Atlantic tropics — to continue throughout the remainder of the hurricane season.
Hurricane veterans know it only takes one storm to wreak havoc. "Continue to be vigilant," advised Alvis Christian, who heads V.I. Territorial Emergency Management activities in St. John. He urged residents to keep a watchful eye of the weather and keep their preparations up to standard, so they'll be ready in case a storm does come this way.
As for Dolly, at 5 p.m. Monday, the storm stood at 18.8 degrees north latitude and 53.5 degrees west longitude, which put it about 500 miles east of the Leeward Islands and above the latitude of the northern Virgin Islands. It was moving west-northwest at 7 mph. The wind speed stood at 45 mph, with gusts to 50 mph.
Coordinates for St. Thomas are 18.3 degrees north latitude and 65 degrees west longitude. For St. John, they stand at 18.2 degrees north latitude and 64.5 degrees west longitude. St. Croix's coordinates are 17.7 degrees north latitude and 64.8 degrees west longitude.
And Tropical Storm Edouard's presence off the East Coast forced officials to post tropical storm warnings in Florida and Georgia. The storm will have no impact here.
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