Tropical Storm Rafael passes V.I. without bringing much rain


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ST. CROIX - The territory managed to avoid a direct hit from a large weather system this weekend as Tropical Storm Rafael passed to the north and east of the territory overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning.

By late Saturday night, a Tropical Storm Warning and a Flash Flood Watch in effect for the territory had been lifted, and authorities had determined that there was no need to open any shelters or to impose any type of curfew for the territory.

Felix Castro, meteorologist with the National Weather Station in San Juan, said that with the storm's passing, weather today is expected to continue along the same line as on Sunday.

"It will remain relatively the same, with some scattered showers associated with the system, while some of those showers may be quite heavy and may also include thunder storms," he said.

St. Thomas experienced most of the effects of the system into Sunday evening as Castro said some outer bands of the storm passed over the island with frequent showers and carrying winds that were gusting up to 25 mph.

He said the storm continues to move away from the territory, but some weather patterns still will prevail with northwest winds continuing into this afternoon.

On Sunday, Rafael continued to have deep convection on its east side that had been bringing heavy rain and thunderstorms. Models have been consistent in depicting conditions becoming conducive to Rafael strengthening into a stronger tropical storm or hurricane by today as it moves north of the islands into the subtropical Atlantic and then passing close to Bermuda on Tuesday. Castro said winds were just more than 60 mph as of the afternoon updates on Sunday.

Rafael initially was projected to make landfall across St. Croix about 7 p.m. Saturday and impact St. Thomas by 11 p.m. Rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches were expected to cause flooding of guts and poor drainage areas.

The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, V.I. Public Works Department, V.I. Police Department and the V.I. Water and Power Authority said that emergency crews and staff had been placed on standby and were ready to respond as needed. On Sunday, they reported no incidents associated with the storm.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan Captain of the Port Capt. Drew Pearson, had set "Port Condition Yankee" for all seaports so only outbound vessel traffic was allowed, but ports reopened with regular operations at daybreak Sunday.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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