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Tropical Storm Expected to Bring Rain to V.I.

Forecasters think Tropical Storm Erika, which formed Tuesday in the Atlantic, will pass to the northeast of the Virgin Islands Thursday.

The territory can expect some rain, according to Shawn Rossi of the National Weather Service office in San Juan.

"And the bulk of the winds will track to the north of the area. We’re on the weaker side of the storm," he said.

The forecast calls for Erika to pass 115 miles northeast of St. John at 3 p.m. Thursday and 123 miles northeast of St. Thomas at 5 p.m. Thursday, Rossi said.

As Erika nears the area, Rossi said the Virgin Islands can expect some showers overnight into Wednesday, but up to two to four inches of rain could fall Thursday.

However, residents should be on the alert because the territory sits at the edge of the cone of uncertainty.

"There’s always a chance it will take a jog, and a little jog can be a huge difference," Rossi said.

Rossi mentioned last year’s Hurricane Omar, which surprised St. Croix when higher winds than expected hit the island. He also pointed out that the mid-September peak of hurricane season is approaching so residents should be ready for storms to head toward the Virgin Islands.

Erika has been on the National Hurricane Center’s radar all week as forecasters watched to see when it would develop and where it would go. The hurricane center bypassed the usual tropical depression status and went right to tropical storm at the 5 p.m. update Tuesday.

At that time, Tropical Storm Erika was centered at 17.2 degrees north latitude and 57.3 degrees west longitude. Winds were at 50 mph, with gusts to 65 mph. Tropical storm force winds extended outward up to 105 miles from the center.

It was moving west-northwest at 9 mph and located 390 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands. Tropical storm watches have been issued for those islands.

The barometric pressure stands at 1007 millibars or 29.73 inches.

The NHC is also watching a tropical wave just off the coast of Africa, but Rossi said that it’s at least seven days away.

"It’s too early to say anything," he said.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs until Nov. 30.

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