A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for the Virgin Islands as Tropical Storm Erika continues its approach to the Lesser Antilles. At 8 a.m., the center of Erika was located some 552 miles to the southeast of the Virgin Islands near 16.2 degrees North, 56.8 degrees West.
The storm's winds have increased to 45 miles per hour with higher gusts, some slow intensification is forecast over the next two days. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 105 miles from the center. Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the Leeward Islands tonight and reach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Thursday.
The storm is moving to the west at 17 miles per hour and a west to west- northwestward motion is expected over the next 48 hours.
On this forecast track, Erika is expected to make her closest point of approach to the territory on Thursday between 3 and 4 p.m. when the center of the storm will be within ten miles of St. Thomas and St. John. At that time, Erika is forecast to be a tropical storm with top winds of 50 miles per hour.
Erika is expected to produce total rain accumulations of two to four inches with maximum amounts of 8 inches across portions of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico through Friday morning. Tropical Storm Erika is expected to produce accumulated rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches.
VITEMA and the National Weather Service are advising the public to make final preparations and to closely monitor the development of Tropical Storm Erika. Stay tuned to local radio and television for weather updates and for more information and instructions from local government officials.
For more information about hurricane preparedness visit
www.Ready.gov or www.Listo.gov, or call VITEMA at 340-773-2244, 340-774-2244 or 340-776-2244.