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STORM TO PASS EARLIER, CLOSER THAN EXPECTED

July 20, 2003 – Tropical Depression Six is moving west faster than forecasters originally thought it would. While forecasters initially thought it would pass south of the territory as a hurricane, they now predict that it will be as Tropical Storm Erika, said Dan Gregoria, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan.
However, the increase in speed means it will pass earlier than originally predicted. The forecast on Sunday afternoon called for the storm to pass south of the Virgin Islands around 4 a.m. Tuesday. Forecasters on Saturday thought it would pass by early Wednesday.
The storm should pass about 120 miles south of St. Croix and 165 miles south of St. Thomas and St. John, also a little closer than forecasters thought on Saturday.
Gregoria said the territory could see heavy rain, gusty winds and possible flooding as the storm moves west.
Tropical Depression Six should reach tropical storm status by early Monday morning, he said.
As of 5 p.m. Sunday, Tropical Depression Six was centered at 13.3 north and 52.6 west. It was moving west at 23 mph with winds of 35 mph. The barometric pressure stood at 1008 millibars.
However, Gregoria reminded Virgin Islands residents that the storm could veer to the north sooner than expected, which could cause problems for the Virgin Islands.
"Everyone needs to remain alert," he said.
Gregoria suggested that residents check their hurricane supplies to make sure they have batteries, canned food and other necessities on hand.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, with the peak of activity usually coming in mid-September.

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