The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico at 5 p.m. today, and as of 8 p.m. the center of Hurricane Jose was located at 15.4 degrees north latitude and 59.6 degrees west longitude, or about 405 miles southeast of St. Thomas.
Roy Ward, spokesman for the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, said the 5 p.m. coordinates of the hurricane coincided with projections from 12 hours earlier. He said Virgin Islanders can expect winds of at least 34 mph by around 11 a.m. Wednesday, building up in the afternoon, with the center of the storm expected to pass through the region about 12 hours later.
Ward advised Virgin Islands residents to "take all necessary precautions." Long lines at service stations from mid-afternoon until after dark were testimony to drivers' determination to top off their tanks while the pumps were in operation, and supermarket parking lots were well filled as shoppers completed 11th hour provisioning.
A coastal flood watch is in effect for the north and east coasts of the Virgin Islands, as is a heavy surf advisory for throughout the islands.
Jose has been moving on a northwest to west-northwesterly track at nearly 13 mph. This motion is projected to continue for the next 24 hours, carrying the storm over portions of the Lesser Antilles, including the Virgin Islands, on Wednesday. Islands along the hurricane's path can expect rainfall of 5 to 10 inches, a National Weather Service report out of Miami said, and tides that are higher than usual, with "dangerous battering waves."
Weather is expected to begin deteriorating tonight, the weather service 5 p.m. advisory said.
The hurricane's maximum sustained winds, near 75 mph, were confined to a small area east of the storm center this afternoon. The estimated minimum central pressure was 992 mb, or 29.29 inches.
Jose appeared to jog a bit to the northwest or north late in the afternoon but was expected to return to a track between west-northwest and northwest. "It would be highly unlikely for Jose to turn immediately northward," the weather report said.
Some strengthening in the hurricane is forecast for the next 24 hours. Substantially higher wind gusts may be experienced in the more mountainous islands, the weather report said.
Earlier hurricane warnings remained in effect at 5 p.m. for Dominica, Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Eustatius, Saba, Dutch Sint Maarten and Anguilla, while a hurricane watch for St. Lucia was discontinued. The French islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe, French St. Martin and St. Barth's were under a hurricane warning issued by France.
According to the National Weather Service, the overall cloud pattern in the region changed little from 11 a.m to 5 p.m. Tuesday. "Because an upper-level ridge is forecast to move with the hurricane, further strengthening is indicated," it said.


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