Virgin Islands National Park Battened Down For Hurricane Earl

Virgin Islands National Park was riding out Hurricane Earl on Monday. NOAA map.

Hurricane Earl with its 120 mile-per-hour winds on Monday was ripping through the Caribbean, where a hurricane warning was posted for Virgin Islands National Park on the island of St. John.

Storm surges associated with Earl were forecast by the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center to be 3-5 feet above normal through the Leeward Islands, which also were told to expect up to 8 inches of rain from the hurricane.

At the national park, preparations began last week for the hurricane's arrival. Park officials opened the Hurricane Hole storm mooring area in Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument to registered boat owners, who began putting their boats on the storm moorings on Saturday (the park can accommodate more than 110 large boats in this area).

Park generators also were filled with fuel, as were park vehicles, and extra supplies were purchased, according to Superintendent Mark Hardgrove.

Most staff were given Monday off and told to stay home and "ride out the storm."

A projected trajectory of the hurricane by the weather service indicated it could be approaching the coast of North Carolina, and Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras national seashores, by Thursday morning.