Aug. 3, 2004 – Tropical Depression 2 formed Tuesday morning, but forecasters expect it to be Tropical Storm Bonnie by the time it passes just south of St. Croix on Wednesday night.
"You should closely monitor this system," Hector Rivera, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan, said.
As of 5 p.m., the territory was on a tropical storm watch with Tropical Depression 2 centered at 13.6 degrees north latitude and 56.6 degrees west longitude, about 300 miles east of the Windward Islands.
It was moving west at 23 mph with sustained winds of 30 mph and gusts hitting 40 mph. The barometric pressure stood at 29.80 inches, or 1009 millibars.
This is the first storm to come near the Virgin Islands in the 2004 hurricane season. Tropical Storm Alex developed as Tropical Depression 1 last weekend off the Florida coast and is now churning off the North Carolina coast.
Harold Baker, director of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, said residents should stock up on canned goods and fill up their water bottles. "Check the gas levels in your car," he also suggested.
Baker urged residents to pay attention to the weather forecasts so they can be prepared. He said that the territory should expect, at the very least, rain and rough seas.
Boaters may now move into safe havens on all islands, but are reminded not to stay on their boats during the storm.
Lucia Francis, enforcement chief at the Planning and Natural Resources Department, said safe havens include Benner Bay, Mandahl Pond and Flamingo Bay on St. Thomas and Water Island; and Salt River and the Christiansted harbor on St. Croix.
Boaters must have proper chaffing gear and adequate lines and anchors for their boats, Francis said. She said DPNR officers will monitor boats moving into these safe havens.
On St. John, the V.I. National Park has opened Hurricane Hole to boaters. "We're erring on the side of the boater and letting them in right now," Steve Clark, the park's chief of enforcement, said.
He said two park rangers will be on duty to make sure boaters anchor correctly. No lines may be tied up to shoreline vegetation. And boaters must use anchors or sandscrews that are oriented either parallel or perpendicular to the shoreline. The direction depends on the bay's orientation.
Boaters must leave within 72 hours after the threat or the storm has passed. They may leave their ground tackle in place for the season, but it must be marked with a buoy. And they must obtain a free permit from the park administration to do so.
Anyone wanting a free permit should send a letter with the boat name and registration or documentation number to Superintendent, V.I. Coral Reef National Monument, 1300 Cruz Bay Creek, St. John VI 00830. If the letter is mailed, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope so the park can send you a receipt. Boaters also may fax their requests to 693-9301 or e-mail them to Rafe Boulon. Boulon will fax or e-mail receipts back to the senders.
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