Oct. 16, 2005 With the peak of hurricane season long past on Sept. 10, the territory's residents have lots to be grateful for on Monday's Hurricane Thanksgiving Day. So far, Mother Nature has spared the Virgin Islands from a disastrous storm.
However, don't let your guard down, warned V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency Director Harold Baker.
"We're still in the realm of hurricane season," Baker said.
He said that people need to keep their family survival kits topped up and their medicine supplies on hand. Baker warned that the recent heavy rains could trigger mudslides, and that motorists should not to drive through flooded areas because they could end up in a hole.
The season doesn't give its final gasp until Nov. 30, but hurricanes have been known to form throughout the year.
"Keep your eye on the weather," Baker said.
In fact, Hurricane Lenny came from an unusual direction, the west, on Nov. 16, 1999 as a Category 4. It did substantial damage on St. Croix, with St. Thomas and St. John feeling a lesser blow. Lenny came on the heels of Tropical Storm Jose, which did minimal damage when it passed north of St. Thomas and St. John on Oct. 21, 1999.
Tropical Storm Klaus, which came from the southwest, hit Nov. 5, 1984.
In observance of Hurricane Supplication Day, churches and organizations across the territory will hold events. The Word of Faith International Christian Center will hold a Thanksgiving Praise and Worship Day at 6:30 p.m. Monday. It will be held at Emancipation Garden.
The Rev. Charles Crespo, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, said that during hurricane season, he and his parishioners pray to be spared from hurricanes at their daily mass.
Hurricane season 2005 has, so far, shaped up to be the second worst since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1886. The year 1933 recorded 21 storms, one more storm than this one.
The season kicked off early with Tropical Storm Arlene forming June 8. It went on to dump rain on the Gulf Coast.
Indeed, this was the Gulf Coast's year to suffer, with the deadly Hurricane Katrina followed by Hurricane Rita causing billions of dollars worth of damage. Officials are still counting the dead. Both reached Category 5 status at their heights, but dropped in strength before reaching land.
While William Gray and his team at Colorado State University predicted that the season would see 20 named storms. The number could go higher as Tropical Depression 24, which formed out of rainy weather that hit the Virgin Islands last week, is on tap to become a tropical storm and then a hurricane. Currently located southeast of Grand Cayman, if forecasters are correct, it will head for south Florida.
With the name Wilma, it will be the year's 21st named storm. According to National Hurricane Center records, it will tie the record set in 1933 for the most storms in a single season. The year 1995, which is when Hurricane Marilyn hit, comes closest with 19 named storms. Since the National Hurricane Center began keeping records in 1951, no season had zero storms.
If the season should see more than 21 named storms, forecasters will use the Greek alphabet.
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