Depression expected to pass south of V.I. as Tropical Storm Ernesto
Published: August 2, 2012
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ST. CROIX - Forecasters say that a tropical depression that formed late Wednesday afternoon out in the Atlantic likely will pass far to the south of the territory this weekend, but they encouraged residents to keep an eye on the system.
The National Hurricane Center reported at its 5 p.m. update on Wednesday that a tropical wave it had been watching had organized enough to become a tropical depression - a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained wind speeds of 38 mph or less.
In the National Hurricane Center's 11 p.m. update, Tropical Depression Five was located about 700 miles east of the Windward Islands.
It had maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour and was moving west-northwest at 18 mph at the time, according to the Hurricane Center.
The depression could strengthen enough to become Tropical Storm Ernesto today.
Jose Alamo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan, said Wednesday night that on its projected path, the storm would pass close to the Windward Islands on Friday and then continue moving to the west-northwest.
Tropical storm watches - indicating that tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours - were issued Wednesday for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe.
"But it is expected to be significantly south of the Virgin Islands," he said. Projections on Wednesday night called for the center of the system to be 170 miles south of St. Croix at its closest point on Saturday, according to Alamo.
"All the guidance, the numerical models and the current weather patterns suggest it will continue to move in its current trajectory," he said.