Outer rain bands associated with Hurricane Ike are expected to affect portions of the Virgin Islands and the coastal waters this evening through Saturday, according to V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Authority State Director Mark Walters. Hurricane Ike will pass about 300 miles north of the local area during the overnight hours tonight, according to Walters. As the system progresses westward during the next couple of days, additional rainfall is expected across the territory, Walters said. This additional rainfall could result in flooding due to the saturated soils left behind from the rainfall of the past few days. Across the local waters, small craft operators are advised to exercise caution, a small craft advisory was in effect for the offshore Atlantic waters from Friday night to Saturday morning, due to increasing seas produced by east-northeasterly swells. At 5 p.m. Friday, the eye of Hurricane Ike was estimated to be about 323 miles to the north-northeast of the Virgin Islands near latitude 22.9 north and longitude 64.1 west. Ike was moving to the west-southwest near 15 miles per hour and was packing winds of near 115 miles per hour. Ike, a category three hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, passed to the north of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico during the overnight hours and into the early morning hours of Saturday. Walters assured residents that VITEMA is continuing to maintain its level of preparedness throughout the hurricane season. Since the noticeable increase in tropical weather activity, our staff has been in touch with partners at FEMA and at the American Red Cross to ensure that all is in place in the event the islands are threatened by a storm or other natural disaster, Walters said.