At 5:00 am on Saturday, the center of Tropical Storm Rafael was located near latitude 15.7 north…longitude 64.2 west or about 129 miles SSW of St. Kitts and is moving toward the northwest near 9 mph.
A gradual turn to the NNW is expected later today. On the forecast track the center of Rafael should be moving near or over the Virgin Islands tonight according to a report from the St. Kitts Meteorological Services.
Maximum sustained winds remain near 40 mph with higher gusts with strengthening of the system forecast during the next 48 hours.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles to the southeast of the center.
The minimum central pressure reported by a hurricane hunter aircraft was 1006 mb…29.71 inches.
Strong gusty winds and locally heavy rainfall are expected across the Leewards and the Virgin Islands today and tonight into Sunday.
Rainfall totals of up to 5 inches are forecast with higher isolated maximum amounts. Therefore, residents in low lying and flood prone areas should move to higher ground, while residents near slopes should guard against mudslides.
Seas are expected to be dangerously rough through until Sunday, reaching as high as 4m or 12ft. A warning against hazardous sea conditions continues in place for sea bathers and small craft operators.
All residents are urged to monitor the movement of Rafael closely and act accordingly.