Aug. 2, 2006 – Although the center of Tropical Storm Chris is currently on a track that takes it north of St. Thomas and St. John, Virgin Islands residents shouldn't drag their porch furniture back outside just yet.
"It's always better to be safe than sorry," meteorologist Shawn Rossi said at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday from the National Weather Service office in San Juan.
He warned that the storm still could change its path and come closer to the Virgin Islands than now expected.
The U.S. and British Virgin Islands remain on a tropical storm warning.
Rossi said rain should start falling Wednesday morning, with the rainfall getting heavier as the day progresses. He said winds should reach 20 to 30 mph.
He said the Chris' center is expected to pass 80 miles north of St. Thomas at 8 p.m.
Although late Tuesday, forecasters said that the storm will get close to the Virgin Islands early Wednesday, Rossi said that Chris slowed down and became more organized.
Acting Gov. Vargrave Richards said on Radio One at 6:40 a.m. that all government employees are to report to work.
"We have seen the 5 a.m. advisory and the weather is such that we will await 11 a.m. advisory," he said.
All emergency personnel are to report to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency at 10 a.m. this morning.
"All commissioners and managers are to be sure buildings are secure and make preparations … in the event that there is a hurricane. At this point all personnel are to report to work," he said.
The Senate Committee on Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice hearing scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed to Aug. 29.
As of 5 a.m. Wednesday, Chris was centered at 18.8 degrees north latitude and 62.6 degrees west longitude. This puts it about 65 miles northeast of St. Maarten.
Winds had reached 60 mph, with gusts to 70 mph. Rossi said Chris could become a hurricane by Thursday.
Tropical storm force winds extend out 75 miles from the storm's center, but the winds are mainly northeast of the center.
It is moving to the west-northwest at 10 mph.
The barometric pressure stands at 1001 millibars or 29.55 inches.
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