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U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Brace for Severe Weather Due to Approaching AL90 Tropical Wave

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The San Juan branch of the National Weather Service has released a fresh advisory alert regarding imminent severe weather conditions targeting both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. A combination of high pressure over the west central Atlantic and the incoming tropical wave AL90 is anticipated to drive a consistent moderate to strong northeastern wind flow throughout the day.

Rising Concerns Over Flash Floods and Landslides

From late tonight, cloud cover, showers, and storms tied to AL90 are forecasted to amplify, engulfing both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This change in weather is set to linger until mid-week. The predicted downpours intensify concerns over urban and stream flooding, including potential flash floods, landslides, and swift river level surges. Locals are advised to keep a vigilant eye on AL90’s trajectory, as recent updates from Miami’s National Hurricane Center suggest a moderate to high likelihood of its development in the coming 2-7 days.

Immediate Forecast: Transition from Mild Showers to Intense Rains

Earlier in the day, brief showers graced regions of Puerto Rico and St. Croix, causing little to no disturbance. Today’s atmospheric conditions, characterized by winds reaching speeds of 20 mph and gusts touching 25 mph, are believed to be the calmest in the forthcoming days. As the day progresses, intermittent showers are foreseen, potentially intensifying during the afternoon, especially over the southwestern parts of Puerto Rico. Nevertheless, AL90’s looming presence is set to make conditions more turbulent overnight.

Week’s Forecast: Brace for Heavy Downpours

With the encroaching AL90, significant rainfall is on the horizon for the eastern regions starting Monday, escalating in severity as nighttime approaches. Residents are alerted to potential hazards such as flash floods, landslides, gusty winds, and frequent lightning strikes. Consequently, a moderate flood risk alert has been declared for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Culebra, Vieques, and the eastern, southern, and southeastern sections of Puerto Rico.

Long-range Forecast: Persistent Weather Challenges

Model predictions show some discrepancies regarding the extended forecast. However, a prevailing consensus points toward a moist and volatile atmosphere enveloping the region up until at least Thursday. This implies sustained risks for showers and storms over the islands and neighboring waters. Come the weekend, a shift is expected as the weather morphs into a more familiar summertime pattern – characterized by heat, humidity, and diminished rain and storm prospects.

Mariners’ Advisory

Mariners are advised to exercise caution. The sea is expected to present challenging conditions for small vessels, with swelling seas reaching heights of up to 7 feet and winds ranging between 25-30 knots. A Small Craft Advisory will remain in place until at least Tuesday evening, emphasizing the need for heightened vigilance.

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NOAA Predicts Active 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has projected a notably active Atlantic hurricane season for 2024, with an 85% likelihood of above-normal activity. According to the Climate Prediction Center, the forecast anticipates 17 to 25 named storms, of which 8 to 13 may develop into hurricanes, including 4 to 7 reaching major hurricane strength. This prediction reflects a 70% confidence level from NOAA’s forecasters, who attribute the increased activity to near-record warm ocean temperatures, the onset of La Nina conditions, and reduced wind shear.

The official hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. As a strong El Nino period concludes, NOAA scientists anticipate a swift transition to La Nina, which is conducive to hurricane formation due to lower wind shear in the Atlantic. Additionally, an above-normal West African monsoon season could contribute to stronger and longer-lasting Atlantic storms.

Rising ocean temperatures and melting ice, leading to higher sea levels, exacerbate the potential impact of hurricanes by increasing storm surge risks. In response to the escalating threat, NOAA is enhancing its communication and forecasting capabilities. Planned improvements include expanded advisories in Spanish, a new experimental forecast cone graphic to depict inland storm threats, and the integration of new models to better predict storm intensification.

Technological advancements such as Saildrones and underwater gliders will be deployed to improve storm tracking and intensity predictions. These enhancements are supported by upgrades to NOAA’s observational infrastructure, providing detailed and real-time data essential for accurate forecasting.

NOAA emphasizes the importance of public preparedness, urging residents in hurricane-prone areas to stay informed through reliable sources like hurricanes.gov and social media platforms. FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik A. Hooks also stresses the need for immediate readiness, highlighting the unpredictable nature of severe weather and its widespread impacts.

NOAA’s seasonal outlook forms part of a broader strategy to boost public awareness and preparedness ahead of potential hurricane landfalls. The Climate Prediction Center plans to provide an updated outlook in early August, incorporating the latest data and predictive models to refine forecasts as the peak hurricane season approaches.

In summary, with an anticipated increase in hurricane activity for the 2024 Atlantic season, NOAA and FEMA underscore the vital importance of preparation and advanced forecasting to mitigate impacts and enhance public safety.

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Elevated Health Risks Prompt Advisory Against Using Coastal Waters During Storms

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With forecasts predicting heavy rainfall and potential flooding, the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) has issued an advisory for the public to avoid using coastal waters across the territory until further notice.

Parents are specifically urged to keep children away from beaches affected by storm water and from areas with manholes or flooding. The advisory highlights the elevated health risks due to increased concentrations of bacteria in storm water runoff, which can include puddles, ghuts, and drainage basins that may also carry harmful contaminants and pollutants.

DPNR has committed to ongoing monitoring of the affected areas and waters to ensure public safety.

Contractors, developers, and home builders are reminded to implement and maintain enhanced erosion and sediment control measures at disturbed properties. The recommended practices include:

  • Preservation of natural vegetation
  • Drainage swales and diversions
  • Temporary and permanent seeding
  • Soil sealers and binders
  • Erosion control mats
  • Soil retaining walls
  • Proper construction entrances and exits
  • Silt fencing
  • Sediment traps
  • Mulches, mats, and geotextiles

Additionally, all construction materials and equipment should be secured or removed to prevent them from becoming airborne hazards during storms.

For reporting areas of concern, contact the Division of Environmental Protection Earth Change Program at (340) 774-3320 or (340) 773-1082.

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Weather Service Issues Flood Warnings for USVI and Puerto Rico

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The National Weather Service in San Juan has issued an alert for heavy rain and potential flooding affecting Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, starting Wednesday.

Forecasts indicate that a combination of an upper-level trough and a developing surface low-pressure system will bring substantial moisture to the region, increasing the likelihood of flooding as the week progresses.

The anticipated weather pattern includes multiple rain episodes, beginning with showers arriving from the Caribbean Sea into the Virgin Islands and spreading across southern and eastern Puerto Rico on Wednesday. A second wave of rain is expected on Thursday, with lingering effects potentially extending into Friday.

Meteorologists warn that sustained periods of moderate to heavy rainfall could elevate the risks of river overflows, flash floods, and mudslides. Residents and visitors, particularly those in flood-prone areas, are advised to stay informed with weather updates and prepare for swiftly changing conditions.

This moisture-laden system is predicted to persist through at least late Saturday, maintaining the heightened risk of flooding throughout the period.

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