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TORRENTIAL RAIN WARNING: ‘Non-Tropical Storm’ Could Hamper Electrical Restoration Efforts in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Going Into Next Week

NOVEMBER RAIN: Although it is the rainy season in the Virgin Islands, the territory seems to have had more rain than normal after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

SAN JUAN — A large area of downpours and locally gusty thunderstorms will continue to affect our part of the region, including the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, into next week.

“The showers and thunderstorms are being caused by a nearly stationary, non-tropical storm extending from north of Hispaniola to the northern tip of South America,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

“This broad, nearly stationary storm will bring unsettled conditions at times from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the United States and British Virgin Islands to Jamaica, Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua over the next several days,” Kottlowski said.

While the storm will cause few problems, there will be the risk of flash flooding and mudslides, where downpours persist. The greatest risk of these conditions will be in mountainous terrain, where foliage was stripped from trees earlier during the hurricane season.

Downpours caused incidents of flash flooding in parts of Puerto Rico earlier this past week.

On Thursday, a major power outage occurred in Puerto Rico, which knocked power generation down from 40 percent to 18 percent of capacity, according to CNN via the Puerto Electric Power Authority (PREPA).

San Juan was once again plunged into darkness, according to the report, after a power line repaired by now-fired Whitefish Energy of Montana failed.

“Available observations around the island did not reveal any severe thunderstorms with high winds in Puerto Rico on Thursday,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller.

The actual number of people without power based on PREPA estimates remains in question, according to news reports. So much so that the United States Energy Department has stopped releasing estimates on the number of customers without electricity in the wake of Hurricane Maria, according to Bloomberg.

“Given the delicate state of repair and lingering damage outside of the capital city of San Juan, it may not take much weather for possible setbacks to restoration efforts,” Miller said.

Thunderstorm winds and torrential downpours are often highly localized. Storms and rugged terrain can produce strong winds in one area, while a community a few miles away may have little wind from the same storm. The same is true for rainfall.

People should use caution when venturing along secondary roads through the countryside in these conditions. Never attempt to drive through flooded roadways. The ground beneath the road surface may have been compromised. Less than 2 feet of rushing water can sweep a vehicle downstream.

Rapid transformation from a non-tropical storm to a tropical storm is unlikely.

“There is a remote chance that if winds aloft diminish, some tropical development may take place in the Caribbean, but the earliest that may happen would not be until later next week,” Kottlowski said.

HURRICANE RESTORATION UPDATE (according to WAPA – Thursday report)

ELECTRIC SYSTEM

• WAPA crews continued to reenergize residential and commercial customers in both districts as restoration continues at a steady pace. Reconstruction and/or restoration is being done on all feeders in both districts.

o On St. John Thursday, Bellevue housing was restored and crews worked to prepare the Sirenusa development for power restoration. Other crews planted composite poles in the area where both Feeders 7E and 9E come together on the road to Coral Bay.

o On St. Croix, portions of Mars Hill, Sion Farm, Gallows Bay and Contentment were energized. Crews also worked along the road past the Buccaneer Hotel toward the east end. Crews continue to work in Frederiksted reconstructing primary lines on Queen and Fisher Streets.

o On St. Thomas, crews restored service to some customers in Frenchman’s Bay, Anna’s Retreat and Estate Mandahl. Reconstruction work continues on Feeders 6A, 7A, 9C and 9D. Crews are working in specific areas of Savan and near the Palms Court Harborview Hotel. Crews will begin work on Monday on both the Magen’s Bay road toward Peterborg and along Skyline Drive. Work continues on Feeder 5A which provides service to a small portion of St. Thomas and to Water Island.

• The public is reminded that through an agreement reached between WAPA and the Department of Planning & Natural Resources, WAPA will energize homes with temporary roofs once a licensed electrician inspects and certifies that the structure is safe to energize.

• WAPA reminds the public that several hurricane removal debris crews are deployed across the islands. Motorists are asked to exercise caution when traversing around the heavy equipment being used to pick up downed poles, transformers, wire and other equipment. Additionally, residents who have downed poles, transformers and other equipment on their premises as a result of the hurricanes should contact the Emergency Call Centers so arrangements can be made to pick up the damaged equipment.

• WAPA advises residents that it is necessary to shut off standby generators when line crews are in your neighborhood restoring electrical service. A standby generator has the potential to back feed electricity to the grid which poses a severe safety risk to restoration crews.

• All electrical problems must be reported to the WAPA Emergency Call Centers to be properly documented and tracked. The Emergency Call Centers operate 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., seven days per week. St. Thomas – St. John: (340) 774-1424 and St. Croix: (340) 773-0150.

• WAPA personnel has removed electrical meters at locations where damage was apparent to either an electrical meter base and/or weather head. Home and business owners are advised to make repairs to their damaged weather heads and/or meter bases as soon as possible. Once crews have reached your neighborhood, those customers who have not had their weather head or meter base repaired, will not have service immediately restored. Additionally, customers and electricians are reminded that it is against the law to remove or otherwise destroy meter seals. If work needs to be done to repair a damaged meter base and or weather head, contact WAPA’s Emergency Call Centers which operate seven days a week, 9 am – 5 pm.

POTABLE WATER SYSTEM

• There are six days of emergency water storage on St. John, ten days on St. Thomas and seven days on St. Croix.

• WAPA urges clean-up contractors and homeowners in both districts to exercise caution when piling debris on and around potable water meters. There are a growing number of instances where water meters are being damaged by clean-up equipment grading debris and causing damage to the roadside water meters. The continued damage by heavy equipment poses difficulty in maintaining or restoring potable water service to customers.

OTHER INFORMATION

• In observance of Veteran’s Day, the administrative offices of the V.I. Water and Power Authority will be closed on Friday, November 10, 2017. However, the customer service offices at Sunny Isle on St. Croix and at Port of Sale Mall on St. Thomas will be open on Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Emergency Call Centers operate 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., seven days a week.
St. Thomas – St. John district, (340) 774-1424; St. Croix district, (340) 773-0150

• WAPA telephone contact: St. Thomas – St. John district, (340) 774-3552; St. Croix district, (340) 773-2250

• Customer Service Offices are operating Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Sunny Isle on St. Croix and at Port of Sale Mall on St. Thomas

• WAPA website: www.viwapa.vi

• Facebook: Virgin Islands Water & Power Authority

• We continue to Recover, Rebuild and Restore. WAPA…Working for You!!

https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/disruptive-weather-to-hinder-cleanup-efforts-across-caribbean-this-week/70003254

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John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands since 1989. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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