Weather to begin clearing up today as Isaac leaves area

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ST. CROIX - Tropical Storm Isaac passing to the south of the territory made for a blustery, moist day on Thursday, with occasional spitting rain alternating with downpours.

By Thursday night, the storm was centered well to the southwest of the territory, but a flash flood watch is likely to remain in effect for the Virgin Islands through Saturday morning because of moisture associated with Isaac, said Jose Alamo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

"There is a very large area of rain to the southeast of the Virgin Islands," Alamo said Thursday night, noting that as Isaac tracks to the west-northwest, the rain was likely to affect the territory overnight and into today.

The National Hurricane Center on Thursday night discontinued a tropical storm warning for the territory.

Alamo said that forecasters expected the gusty winds that Isaac brought to continue overnight into this morning but that the winds should start to calm down some today, as Isaac continues to move away from the area.

The seas also should start improving today, with expectations that by Saturday morning, near-shore waters should be at 6 feet or less, Alamo said.

The center of Tropical Storm Isaac made its closest pass to the territory sometime between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Thursday, when the center - which reformed overnight, further south than had previously been estimated - passed about 120 miles south-southwest of St. Croix, said Brian Seeley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

Both St. Thomas and St. Croix saw sustained winds on Thursday greater than 30 miles per hour, although less than the 39 mph that is required for tropical storm conditions.

On St. Thomas, there was a 37 mph sustained wind at 4:14 p.m. Thursday, and a wind gust up to 46 mph at 4:09 p.m. Thursday, Alamo said.

On St. Croix, there was a 45 mph gust at 10:42 a.m. Thursday and a 34 mph peak sustained wind, Alamo said.

Rainfall also varied.

On St. Croix, the rain gauge at the airport had measured 0.41 of an inch between midnight and 6 p.m. Thursday, Alamo said. On St. Thomas for the same time period, only .10 of an inch had fallen.

However, officials still believe that the overall rainfall associated with the storm may grow.

The National Hurricane Center said Thursday night that total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches, with maximum amounts of 6 inches over higher terrain were possible in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in association with the storm.

At press time Thursday, Tropical Storm Isaac was centered about 145 miles southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, heading west-northwest, where the Hurricane Center estimated it could make landfall this afternoon.

Thursday night, Isaac had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, with higher gusts, and tropical storm force winds extended outward up to 185 miles, mainly to the northeast of center.

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Ten - out in the Atlantic - became Tropical Storm Joyce on Thursday. Joyce is expected to continue on a course to the northwest into the open Atlantic and steer clear of the Caribbean.

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