It will be a soggy few days in the territory as Tropical Storm Fiona passes south of the Virgin Islands, forecasters said Friday. Although the storm was not predicted to strengthen significantly, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. warned against complacency.
With up to six inches of rain coming down Saturday through Tuesday, landslides and flooding present a real hazard for the drought-weary territory, Bryan said.
“Be prepared for the worst,” he said, adding that the storm will likely pass well of St. Croix. “That’s good for us but don’t sleep on it.”
The storm’s 50 mile-per-hour winds and rain, extending out 125 miles, could force flights to be cancelled and potentially bring down trees, Bryan said. The predictions were slightly lower than those Thursday which had the storm with sustained winds of 65 miles per hour.
Bryan joked the storm was currently a “light blow” and urged tourists in the territory not to panic. He said local people should check in on elderly neighbors and family members to see that they are prepared for a few days indoors.
“As of now there are no plans to put in any curfews, however, we would like you to stay home as much as possible,” he said. “The more you can stay at home and stay off the roads, the quicker we can clear the roads.”
Bryan also asked Virgin Islanders to pickup any debris that may be in their yard for fear winds could pick it up and cause damage.
“It’s not going to mash up your house but it’s going to damage your neighbors house. That’s for sure,” he said.
Seaports would be closed at 10 p.m., Bryan said, but that could change.
Puerto Rico, especially the southeast, could see up 10 inches of rainfall, forecasters said.
As of 8 a.m. Friday, the storm’s eye was at 15.8N and 58.6W, said VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen, and could pass closer to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico late Saturday or early Sunday.
“Fiona is moving toward the west near 15 miles per hour with a gradual decrease in speed expected Saturday night or early Sunday, followed by a turn toward the west-northwest on Sunday,” he said.
The Department of Planning and Natural Resources advised boaters to prepare for the storm and any subsequent ones. Boats should use a hurricane-resistant three-point anchor system even if moved to one of the territory’s hurricane safe havens. In St. Thomas and St. John area, those havens are Benner Bay, Mandahl Pond, and Flamingo Bay. In St. John, Hurricane Hole is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Boaters wanting to moor there should contact the chief ranger.
In St. Croix, the have in Salt River. Initial entry into the haven is first come, first served, but once in, boaters can leave and return.
DPNR cautioned boaters should not remain on the vessel during the storm. If the boat is grounded or sunk, the owner is responsible for its removal and must notify DPNR.