Sept. 22, 2002 – Forecasters said Sunday afternoon that what now is still Tropical Depression 13 is expected to pass about 150 miles south of St. Croix as Hurricane Lily by late Tuesday and early Wednesday. However, meteorologist Andy Roche at the National Weather Service in San Juan cautioned that it is still too early to say exactly where the storm will go.
"Long-range forecasts are less accurate. We have to monitor it closely," he said.
Roche said that forecasters expect Lily to be a Category 1 hurricane, which has sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph. "But conditions can change dramatically," he said.
Residents in the Virgin Islands found that out the hard way when forecasters expected 1995's Hurricane Marilyn to be minimal. Instead, the storm picked up strength as it neared the Virgin Islands and caused extensive damage, especially on St. Thomas.
Roche said the center of Tropical Depression 13 is ahead of the convection, the cell of vertical activity as warm, moist air rises, cools and condenses, and then falls. This, Roche said, indicates the system will not strengthen. However, should the convection catch up with center, he said, strengthening will occur.
At the National Weather Service 5 p.m. update on Sunday, Tropical Depression 13 was centered at 12.1 degrees north latitude and 54 degrees west longitude, putting it about 395 miles east of the Windward Islands. With a wind speed of 35 mph, it was moving westward at 23 mph. The barometric pressure stood at 29.68 inches.
Tropical storm watches — which are issued preliminary to storm warnings — have been posted from Guadeloupe south to the Grenadines and Barbados.
Alvis Christian, deputy director for the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency for St. John, said on Sunday that residents should be prepared for the worst. "Make sure your documents are secured," he said, ticking off a lengthy list of things people should have ready as routine preparations for hurricane season.
People who need medications should have a good supply on hand, Christian said, and everyone should stockpile food, including canned goods, and drinking water. He also said that residents should have a plan for dealing with their pets and know where emergency shelters are located in case they need to utilize them.
Because it was Sunday, the VITEMA headquarters on St. Thomas was closed and information on shelters was not available. To learn where designated shelters are located on St. Thomas, call 774-2244 on Monday.
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