Aug. 1, 2006 – A tropical storm warning was issued for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands at 5 p.m. Tuesday as Tropical Storm Chris draws closer.
"It's gotten a little stronger," National Weather Service meteorologist Rafael Mojica said at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
He said that Chris should pass about 50 to 60 miles north of St. John and 70 miles northeast of St. Thomas at about noon Wednesday. Winds should be around 60 mph with gusts to 70 mph.
He said stormy conditions should begin at approximately 2 a.m. Wednesday.
"I see a forerunner band approaching the Anegada passage now," he said.
As of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Chris was centered at 18.7 degrees north latitude and 61.1 degrees west longitude. This puts it about 75 miles northeast of Antigua.
Winds had reached 45 mph, with gusts to 55 mph. Some additional strengthening is expected in the next 24 hours.
Tropical storm force winds extend out 25 miles from the storm's center.
It is moving to the west-northwest at 10 mph.
The barometric pressure stands at 1003 millibars or 29.61 inches.
Mojica urged residents to prepare as if the storm would get worse or come closer as it approaches the territory.
And he said that there's another tropical wave approaching that could strengthen by Aug. 7 or 8.
"It's moving into an area favorable for development," he said.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards, in a press release, urged all residents to monitor Chris' progress.
"The people of the Virgin Islands know what to do when bad weather comes our way, and I'm calling on all residents to take the necessary precautions to ensure that we come through this challenge with a minimum impact to life and property," Richards wrote.
The V.I. Water and Power Authority announced that WAPA will provide electric and potable water service as long as possible to all sections of the territory.
The "three-strike rule" applies. This means that plant staff will return electrical service to the feeder three times. After the third attempt, the power will remain off until the storm passes.
WAPA spokesman Cassandra Dunn, in a news release, said residents should stay away from downed power lines. They should assume all fallen lines are energized, which means coming in contact with them can be fatal.
Dunn said residents can protect their homes during power interruptions by turning off all breakers except one. The sole breaker will be used as an indicator that electricity has been restored to the home.
She recommended that residents make sure their property plot numbers are clearly visible to prevent delays in restoring power to the home.
She urged residents to gather their batteries, flashlights, battery-operated radio and first aid kit.
Echoing remarks made earlier in the day by V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency Director Harold Baker, Dunn said people should clear their yard of any debris and other items that can become airborne during a storm because they can damage power lines and electrical equipment.
She said residents may call WAPA's emergency call centers, which will be activated after the storm, to receive reports about downed lines, water leaks or other WAPA emergencies. On St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island, call WAPA at 777-9272 or 774-1424. On St. Croix, call 713-9272 or 773-0150.
Dunn urged residents to store extra drinkable water and have water available for food preparation and bathing.
Planning Commissioner Dean C. Plaskett urged residents to protect their drinking water by disconnecting or blocking downspouts to cisterns. He advised residents to store a two-week supply of potable water in a safe place.
Plaskett said each resident uses 20 gallons per day for drinking, cooking and bathing.
He said to disinfect contaminated water, add six ounces of household bleach to 1,000 gallons of water.
At V.I. National Park on St. John, resource manager Carrie Stengel said 99 boaters signed up in June for spaces in the safe haven, Hurricane Hole.
She said some signed up for space on the hurricane chain, but others put out ground tackle.
Stengel said that boaters must leave Hurricane Hole 72 hours after a storm passes. She said they may leave their ground tackle in place for the remainder of the hurricane season.
"This minimizes damage to the resources," she said.
Plaskett send out a press release advising boaters that other safe havens include Benner Bay, Mandahl Pond and Flamingo Bay on St. Thomas and Salt River on St. Croix.
He said that entry into those safe havens is on a first-come basis. Enforcement officers will be on hand to assist boaters.
Plaskett said that boaters may leave their "hurricane anchors" in places for the entire season. They must attach one mooring ball marked with the vessel registration number.
He advised boaters not to remain on their boats during the storm.
Luana Wheatley, marketing director for the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association, said all of its members received an update, including information from VITEMA.
"Properties are advised to tell guests they're going to get rain and gusting winds," she said.
She said that the association doesn't want its members to frighten guests, but on the other hand, it pays not to take any storm for granted.
Hovensa spokesman Alex Moorhead said that since weather reports indicate Chris won't get close enough to St. Croix to be a problem, the plant isn't taking any precautions.
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