The National Hurricane Center in Miami is warning residents to keep a close watch on Tropical Storm Jerry, which is expected to bring heavy seas and rain to the Virgin Islands.
“Jerry is expected to become a hurricane before it moves close to the northern Leeward Islands,” the center said in its forecast advisory.
Forecasters expect Jerry to pass north of the Virgin Islands on Friday night and early Saturday morning. While the territory might escape the storm’s worst winds, forecasters are warning residents to expect storm-driven swells, large breaking waves and rip currents beginning today.
The first waves to hit the area today, particularly north and east facing beaches of St. Thomas, will actually be from Hurricane Humberto, which is just north of Bermuda, according to David Sanchez, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in San Juan.
The seas, already churned by Humberto, will be further tossed by Jerry on Friday and Saturday, Sanchez said.
“The main impacts,” Sanchez said, will be “8 to 12 foot seas in Atlantic waters and rough conditions and life-threatening rip currents.”
Currently, 1 to 3 inches of rain are expected Saturday and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. But, that could change Sanchez said.
“Rainfall is going to depend on the track. The tail of the system is usually the rainmaker, so we are waiting for Saturday afternoon through Sunday for the tail of the system,” Sanchez said.
“That is based on [Wednesday’s] evening’s forecast, anything could change in the next few days,” he cautioned. “As we already saw with Dorian — they can change.”
Jerry’s maximum sustained winds increased to 65 mph Wednesday as it moved west-northwest at 15 mph, the center said. The system will be considered a Category 1 hurricane when the winds begin blowing at 74 mph, which is expected today. At 11 p.m. Wednesday, Jerry was located 675 miles east of the Leeward Islands with tropical-storm-force winds extending up to 45 miles from its center.
Tropical storm watches have been issued for Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Barthelemy, St. Eustatius, Saba and St. Martin.
In the Virgin Islands, the V.I. Health Department has announced that the Myrah Keating Smith Clinic on St. John will be relocated to the Morris F. deCastro Clinic at 7 p.m. tonight as the storm approaches.
“Operations will resume at the Myrah Keating Smith Clinic after Tropical Storm Jerry has passed the territory and it is deemed safe to resume operations,” according to a press release from the department.
While no watches or warnings are in effect for the territory as of press-time, the U.S. Coast Guard has set seaport conditions territorywide at X-Ray.
“Port Condition X-Ray means that all vessels and port facilities must ensure that potential flying debris is removed or secured and Coast Guard safety regulations regarding storm preparations should be implemented,” according to a Port Authority press release.
Crown Bay Marina will be closed to all vessels beginning at 3 p.m. this afternoon and the Water Island Ferry will be relocating to the Austin “Babe” Monsanto Marine Terminal’s excursion dock and will remain at the Port Authority facility until Crown Bay Marina reopens.
While the storm may impact some seaports, the Port Authority said that as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, it had received no notice of airline cancellations and the airports would remain open. However, the authority cautioned that conditions could change and passengers should contact their airlines directly.