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V.I. Should Feel Outer Fringes of Frances' Fury

Aug. 31, 2004 –– Hurricane Frances' speed – it's now moving west at close to 15 mph – should help keep it from wobbling south toward St. Thomas and St. John, meteorologist Brian Seeley at the National Weather Service in San Juan, said Tuesday.
"It would have to do something very unlikely," he said.
This is good news for Virgin Islands residents who have spent the last several days worrying that Hurricane Frances would make a direct hit. Instead, residents should feel only the very outer fringes.
Seeley expects the storm to be centered 130 to 150 miles northeast of St. Thomas and St. John at 8 a.m. By noon, it should be 130 to 150 miles due north.
Wind velocities are expected to range between 25 to 40 mph, with gusts running anywhere from 40 to even 60 mph.
"It's going to be very close whether you get tropical storm force winds," Seeley said.
A tropical storm has winds that range from 39 to 73 mph.
Seeley said the afternoon should see the worst of the rain as Hurricane Frances' tail passes through the area.
He expects anywhere from one to two inches to fall throughout the day, with some areas getting a total of four inches.
Seeley said the hurricane appears to be in an intensification mode. At 5 a.m. Tuesday, the wind speed was 125 mph with gusts hitting 155 mph. This makes it a Category 3 hurricane.
Hurricane Frances is centered at 19.9 degrees north latitude and 62.8 degrees west longitude. At 5 a.m., this put it about 125 miles north of St. Maarten.
The pressure stands at 949 millibars or 28.01 inches.
Tropical storm force winds extend outward 175 miles from the center, with hurricane force winds reaching 70 miles from the center.
At 6 a.m., Seeley said Anegada in the British Virgin Islands was feeling the outer bands. At the same time, a rain squall blew through Coral Bay, St. John and the north side of St. Thomas
A tropical storm warning remains in effect for St. Thomas, St. John and the British Virgin Islands. St. Croix is on a tropical storm watch.
Hurricane Frances, which at one point reached Category 4 status, is expected to strengthen again as it heads for the Bahamas and the southeast coast of the United States.

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