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V.I. Should Dodge Emily's Bullet

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July 13, 2005- Emily is still a tropical storm, but winds are up to 60 mph with gusts to 70 mph. However, it now looks like the Virgin Islands will dodge the bullet except for "some good breakers on the southern side of the islands," a bit of wind and possibly some showers, National Weather Service meteorologist Walter Snell said from San Juan.
"It should pass about 292 miles south south-west of St. Thomas between 7 and 8 p.m. Thursday," Snell said at 6:15 a.m. Wednesday.
He said it will then be a Category 1 hurricane.
He said forecasters are confident that the Virgin Islands are out of harm's way.
"The track could change, but it would be difficult for it to make a right turn," he said, referring to the sharp change in direction that would be necessary to send the storm this way.
Snell said that Tropical Storm Emily's unexpected westward track kept it far enough south to miss the Virgin Islands. While the storm was forecast to start turning north-northwest earlier, it didn't happen.
"The original northwest track couldn't be sustained in the face of a high pressure system to the north," he said.
However, he said it should turn in that direction within the next day.
The forecast calls for it to strengthen as it approaches the Windward Islands.
As of 5 a.m., Tropical Storm Emily was located 345 miles east of Trinidad, which is on both a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch.
Hurricane warnings have been posted for Tobago, Grenada,
The Grenadines, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia. Barbados has a tropical storm warning, with Martinique on a tropical storm watch. Trinidad is on both a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch.
At the 5 a.m. update, Tropical Storm Emily was centered at 11.1 degrees north latitude and 56.3 degrees west longitude.
Tropical storm force winds extend outward 85 miles.
It is moving to the west at 19 mph.
The barometric pressure stands at 997 millibars or 29.43 inches.
Snell said this was the earliest storm in history starting with the letter e.
He said the hurricane season started early because water temperatures are warm and this is not an El Nino year. The El Nino factor influences hurricanes in the Atlantic basin.
"The season could be a long one," Snell said.
He said there are two tropical waves east of the islands. He expects one to dissipate and the second to continue on its path toward the Caribbean, arriving in the area next Wednesday. However, he said the computer models don't have it developing into a storm at this point.
"But that doesn't mean it won't," he said.

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