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Anniversaries of Storms Keep Eyes on the Weather

Sept. 11, 2006 – With the anniversaries of that dastardly duo (Hurricane Marilyn and Hurricane Hugo) arriving this weekend, savvy Virgin Islands residents have their eyes on the weather.
According to meteorologist Shawn Rossi at the National Weather Service in San Juan, there isn't anything out there right this minute that poses a threat.
"It looks pretty tranquil right now," he said Monday.
Tropical Depression 7 formed late Sunday and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Gordon on Monday afternoon. Forecasters think Gordon will remain on a track that takes it northeast of the Virgin Islands. Rossi said that at its closest point, on Tuesday, it will pass 490 miles to the northeast.
Rossi said he doesn't expect any problems for the Virgin Islands from this storm, but said swells will arrive Wednesday and Thursday.
He said that the territory should see some showers and thunderstorms Wednesday and Thursday from a tropical wave passing through the area.
Rossi said a tropical wave that shows some signs of development has just come off Africa, but it should go well to the north.
"The pressure patterns do not favor bringing it in our direction," he said.
At the 5 p.m. update, Tropical Storm Gordon was centered at 21.6 degrees north latitude and 57.3 degrees west longitude. This puts it more than 400 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands.
Winds are at 45 mph, with gusts to 55 mph.
It is moving to the northwest at 9 mph.
The barometric pressure stands at 1003 millibars or 29.61 inches.
Hurricane season still has a long way to go until its official end on Nov. 30.
Residents remember well the devastation that came with Hugo and Marilyn.
Hugo visited Sept. 17 and 18, 1989, causing widespread damage.
Hurricane Luis preceded Marilyn, giving residents a taste of things to come on Sept. 5 and 6, 1995.
Marilyn hit Sept. 15 and 16, 1995, causing massive destruction across the territory and flinging the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Point Ledge onto the downtown Charlotte Amalie bulkhead.
A stream of smaller storms followed Marilyn. Hurricane Bertha arrived on July 8, 1996, taking everyone by surprise since it came so early in the season.
Hurricane Georges visited Sept. 21, 1998.
Tropical Storm Jose arrived Sept. 20 and 21, 1999.
Hurricane Lenny hit on Nov. 17, 1999, leaving a huge buoy on Strand Street in Frederiksted, St. Croix.
Then there was Hurricane Debby on Aug. 22, 2000. Residents prepared, schools closed and power went out for a while, but everyone breathed a sigh of relief that Debby passed without causing too much trouble.
And Tropical Storm Jeanne on Sept. 15, 2004, sent wet weather and wind across the territory.
The territory also saw rain, wind and high seas from numerous other hurricane season storms that came close.
Steve Parris, the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency's deputy director for St. Thomas and Water Island, reflected on the lessons learned since Hugo and Marilyn hit.
He said that after it became apparent that the Virgin Islands was a stepping stone for storms on their way across the Atlantic, officials and residents increased their preparations.
However, he pointed out that a storm becomes an "event" when people and the government are prepared, but is a disaster when there's no preparation.
Parris said that while the government is far better prepared to handle such events, the building code has been upgraded so houses can better withstand storms, residents still must make sure they're ready.
"You need to look at yourself and see potential vulnerabilities. Plan for the worst," he said.

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