St. John residents geared up for the potential threat of Tropical Storm Emily last week, only to see the storm pass south of the territory, bringing few winds and some rain to the islands.
With all eyes on TS Emily as she slowly crossed the Atlantic region, the storm took a long time to organize, and was finally deemed a tropical storm on Monday, August 1, the same day St. John started feeling TS Emily’s few effects.
No damage was reported in the territory, which saw just a few inches of rain from the storm over a period of three days, and wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour on St. Croix, and 30 to 40 miles per hour on St. Thomas and St. John.
The U.S. Coast Guard advised boaters not to go out to sea, as oceans were whipped into white caps by the passing storm.
The territory was under a tropical storm watch as Emily passed south of the islands.
The Department of Human Services planned to open storm shelters territory-wide, but the opening of shelters was canceled on Tuesday, August 2, when it became apparent that TS Emily would not directly hit the Virgin Islands.
Forecasters remained uncertain about whether the storm would grow in intensity, and even had trouble initially agreeing on a storm track, but TS Emily eventually grazed the southern end of Hispaniola on Thursday, August 4.
There have now been five named tropical storms during the 2011 hurricane season, none of which have developed into a hurricane.
In late June, Tropical Storm Arlene — the season’s most damaging and deadly so far — struck Mexico, causing flooding and landslides, and 22 confirmed deaths.
In mid-July, Tropical Storm Bret formed north of the Bahamas and eventually dissipated north of Bermuda.
On July 20, Tropical Storm Cindy was born northeast of Bermuda from the same front that created Bret. The storm never made landfall, and dissipated three days later.
Tropical Storm Don, which threatened the Texas coast, was named on July 27. The storm was quickly downgraded, however, as it made landfall, dropping less than an inch of rain.
Forecasts are calling for a total of 15 to 17 named storms for the 2011 season, with Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray’s Colorado State University team anticipating nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes.
Meteorologists are also calling for more storms to make landfall in the U.S. this year. Factors contributing to the anticipated above-normal activity include high sea surface temperatures, which are two degrees warmer than average.
“We continue to foresee well above-average activity for the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season,” said Klotzberg and Gray in a June 1 report. “We continue to anticipate an above average probability of United States and Caribbean major hurricane landfall.”
To stay up to date on storm activity in the Virgin Islands, visit the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency’s web site, www.vitema.gov, to sign up to receive alerts via text message.