Government Offices, Schools to Close at Noon as TS Karen Nears

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. announced Monday morning that he will close the Government of the Virgin Islands including schools at noon on Monday as Tropical Storm Karen makes its approach to the territory.

The governor ordered that all non-essential employees be dismissed at noon so they can make preparations for the storm’s impact on the territory. All essential government personnel – as determined by supervisors – are required to report to work as normal.

The noon closure of schools and government offices is to allow government employees to make needed final preparations ahead of tropical storm Karen and to allow for a safe and secure commute ahead of any anticipated port closures late Monday.

At 5 a.m., the center of Tropical Storm Karen was 290 miles south-southeast of St. Croix near 13.6 degrees North, 63.9 degrees West. Top winds are at 40 miles per hour with some fluctuation in intensity expected over the next few days due to strong upper-level winds. The storm remains on a track to the northwest but at a slower forward speed of 8 miles per hour. A turn to the north is expected between today and Tuesday and when that turn happens will determine how close to the USVI the storm comes.

Tropical storm force winds extend 105 miles mainly northeast to southeast from the center.

Marginal tropical storm force winds affect the Virgin Islands for about 15 hours beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Tropical storm force winds will first arrive on St. Croix at 7 a.m., spreading across to St. Thomas by 11 a.m., and reaching St. John by noon.

The strongest sustained winds to affect the territory are estimated at 39 miles per hour. The tropical storm will make its closest point of approach to the territory at 4 p.m. on Tuesday when the center passes approximately 43 miles west of St. Thomas. At that time, Karen is forecast to be a tropical storm with top winds of 40 miles per hour.

Rainfall activity associated with the tropical storm may start to affect the territory by late Monday night into early Tuesday morning and continue through Wednesday. Current projections peg rainfall estimates at between two and four inches across the Virgin Islands, with a potential for up to six inches in some isolated areas.

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Public Works will distribute sandbags Monday in advance of Tropical Storm Karen, which is on course to hit the territory Tuesday.

Distribution sites will be:

St. Croix
– Department of Public Works, Anna’s Hope, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
– Department of Public Works, Mars Hill, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
– Grove Place Fire Station, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
– Cotton Valley Fire Station, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

St. Thomas
– Department of Public Works, Subbase, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
– Tutu Fire Station, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

St. John
– Department of Public Works, Susannaberg, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Residents are limited to up to 10 bags per household, according to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency. This will allow all residents requiring sandbags to be serviced. Pre-filled sandbags will be available for the elderly people with disabilities, and specific functional needs.