Weather forecasters are warning that breezy conditions and a northerly swell spreading across local waters will maintain hazardous marine conditions in the U.S. Virgin Islands through at least the weekend.
The warning comes as St. Croix families are enjoying Easter camping at the island’s marine parks for the first time since such gatherings were suspended at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
The National Weather Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said in an advisory on Thursday that the swell will result in breaking waves that will cause life-threatening rip currents during the next several days.
“In addition, the remnants of an old frontal boundary will be moving just north of the local islands and, in combination with favorable atmospheric conditions, will enhance the potential for showers across the region,” according to the advisory.
“At this time, the threat level of life-threatening rip currents is high, while the threat level for flooding and hazardous seas is moderate,” it said.
Potential hazards include seas up to 8 feet, and occasionally up to 10 feet, with the highest seas across the Atlantic and Caribbean waters, and the Mona and Anegada passages, where Small Craft Advisories will be in effect through the weekend, according to the advisory.
In Puerto Rico, breaking waves of 6 to 9 feet are likely along the outer reefs and unprotected beaches across most of the coastline, including Vieques and Culebra. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, breaking waves of 6 to 9 feet are expected. Therefore, a High Rip Current Risk is in effect through at least Saturday afternoon for all of the USVI and for the north, east, southeast, and southwest areas of Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra, the advisory stated.
There is a moderate risk of flooding with ponding of water on roads and in poorly drained areas as well as urban and small stream flooding through Saturday, the Weather Office said. The risk of flooding will increase on Sunday into early next week as deeper moisture reaches the forecast area.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Jean-Pierre L. Oriol of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources reminds campers on St. Croix that guidelines must be adhered to while camping on the Columbus Landing site at Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve and within the East End Marine Park during the Easter holiday. Copies of these guidelines are available on the DPNR website.
Salt River Bay Columbus Landing site rules include:
– Identification must be shown if requested by a DPNR Enforcement Officer.
– No digging of any kind will be tolerated. Fire pits and trash pits are prohibited. Smoothing of the ground surface is allowed by hand, brush, rake or leaf rake only. No heavy equipment, picks, or shovels are allowed on site.
– Campfires will be allowed if placed within a metal container or on bare sand. Fires and hot coals should be supervised and monitored always.
– All trash shall be removed from the site by individuals or individual families. Anyone caught littering will be cited for a violation of local littering laws. Beach and grounds cleanup activities are encouraged, even for those areas outside of individual campsites.
– Portable toilets and a trash bin will be provided through April 24. The use of additional trash bins and portable toilets is encouraged. Do not place trash at bin site after the bin is removed on April 24. Carry it out.
– No motorized vehicles will be allowed on the earthen fort at Columbus Landing. Violators who drive onto the earthworks will be cited with a violation of the Antiquities and Cultural Properties Act (Title 29, Chapter 17 of the VI Code) and will be subject to a civil fine of up to $500.
– Any fights, altercations, or loud, boisterous, or drunken activities will be dealt with by DPNR Enforcement Officers to the fullest extent of the law.
– Dogs and horses are prohibited.
– No cutting of brush or other vegetation, especially mangroves, or any of the trees on the beach.
– No marine organisms, native plants, or artifacts should be disturbed or removed from the site. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
East End Marine Park rules include:
– Shore-based fishing by hook and line only is allowed from Chenay Bay to Cramer’s Park on the north shore and Grapetree Point to Great Pond on the south shore. Spearfishing and the taking of conch, lobster and whelk are prohibited from all EEMP beach access points.
– All temporary structures should be dismantled and removed from campsites at the end of your stay.
– All fires within park boundaries require a permit from V.I. Fire Service.
– Do not damage, trim, burn or remove coastal vegetation.
– All trash and debris must be removed from the campsite.
– The use of motor vehicles, ATVs, UTVS, and motorized bikes on beaches and salt ponds is prohibited.