Although the new day dawned clear of the rains that drenched the Virgin Islands Thursday afternoon into overnight, the National Weather Service says high winds and dangerously large sea swells and heavy surf conditions bringing coastal flooding are expected to continue until Sunday evening.
A coastal flood warning and a small-craft advisory remain in effect from Thursday for the territory, and swimmers are advised to stay out of the water on the north and northwest coasts of the islands.
Variably cloudy skies with cool and windy conditions are expected across the islands Friday.
The relentless deluge that began late Thursday afternoon was the result of what weather forecasters had been predicting all week: the first cold front of the season, which, coupled with abundant moisture, dropped torrential rains on the islands.
Thursday's heavy rains flooded out some low-lying areas on St. Thomas. Due to water on the roads and several disabled vehicles, there were major traffic tieups from sunset into the evening darkness on the Harwood Highway, with gridlock for an hour in all directions at the intersection by the Addelita Cancryn Junior High School and the Banco Popular regional headquarters.
Flooding was also reported on the East End at the entrance to the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort, where standing water had stretched across much of the Smith Bay Road for days due to drainage problems.
The cold front carrying the stormy weather was extended from St. Croix northeast across the other U.S. and British Virgin Islands just before sunrise Friday. "Drier and cooler air has begun to move in across the local area," the advisory said, "with the threat of heavy rainfall and flash flooding having ended for the day."
A weather service statement issued at 7:25 a.m. Friday said that "an intense winter storm across the west and northwest Atlantic the past few days has been generating huge seas over the western Atlantic," sending large northwesterly swells toward the northern and northeastern Caribbean.
The large swells "will produce very heavy surf, very large breaking waves, beach erosion and very strong and dangerous rip currents," the weather service said.
Along the north coasts of the Virgin Islands, people "must take action to protect lives and property," it said. "Swimmers are advised to stay out of the water along these coastlines today."
According to the weather service, the cold front has moved through the area much faster than anticipated a few days ago. It is expected to cross the Anegada Passage today and move into the northern Leeward Islands in the next three days.
An area of high pressure across the southwest Atlantic behind the cold front should maintain the windy conditions Friday and bring periods of cloudiness with light showers across the islands through Saturday. A gradual improvement in marine conditions is expected to begin by Sunday night.


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