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Ivan's Course Remains South of Virgin Islands

Sept. 6, 2004 – As Hurricane Ivan races toward the region on a west-northwest track at 22 mph, residents are urged to remain watchful. While forecasters still think the storm will pass south of the territory, they warn the Virgin Islands remain in what they call the cone of uncertainty. That means should the storm wobble a bit to the north, Virgin Islanders will get more of a storm than they thought.
Rafael Mojica, warning coordinator meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, said he might issue a tropical storm watch for the territory later today. This means the Virgin Islands could see tropical storm force winds within 36 hours.
"With a storm to the south, I don't like to play," he said.
When storms come from the southeast like Hurricane Ivan, they can unexpectedly veer farther north than anticipated to impact the territory. And the worst winds are likely to be found on the north side of the storm, which could be felt in the Virgin Islands.
Mojica said the current forecast has Hurricane Ivan passing about 180 miles south of St. Croix on Wednesday. Forecasters expect it to be a Category 4 hurricane by that point.
Hurricane force winds extend outward 35 miles from the storm's center. Tropical storm force winds reach 140 miles.
As of 2 p.m. Monday, Hurricane Ivan's winds are 115 mph with higher gusts. This makes it a Category 3 storm.
Hurricane Ivan is centered at 11.4 degrees north latitude and 54.4 degrees west longitude. This puts it about 360 miles east southeast of the Barbados. Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and its dependencies, and Trinidad and Tobago are on a hurricane warning. This means a hurricane is expected within 24 hours.
A hurricane watch is up in Martinique.
Hurricane Ivan's barometric pressure stands at 969 millibars or 28.60 inches.
As Hurricane Ivan comes closer, residents are anxiously watching to see if this one or the next one or the one after will have our number.
"The unpredictability causes stress," said St. Thomas psychologist Dianne Brinker.
She said that V. I. residents know well that if they prepare carefully, they will survive the actual storm. However, those that were in the territory for Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Marilyn in 1995 plus the other smaller storms that came after, recall all too clearly how difficult it is to go months without electricity and other amenities.
Brinker said that most V. I. residents empathize with Florida residents who have suffered a double whammy with Hurricane Charley and then Hurricane Frances in the space of three weeks.
Mojica said Hurricane Ivan could be on its way to Florida, giving the state a triple dose of hurricane havoc.
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