Here's a 'live, on scene' report about Tropical Fizzle Rafael, contributed by Danielle and Kevin McCarthy, owners of Coconuts. Their Gifft Hill villa looks to St. Thomas and Puerto Rico.
Tropical Storm Rafael proved to be a complete no-show, at least as far as St. John is concerned. At Logan Airport in Boston Saturday morning, word spread that the Coast Guard had shut down ferry traffic at 8 AM, and the 8AM track updates had shifted to passing directly over the VI. I was wearing rain gear for the soaking we expected to encounter on deplaning (assuming that the flight wasn't re-routed to San Juan or Miami), and had The Doors' "Riders on the Storm" queued up to play as we battled our way down to the tarmac. While we were in the air, though, the storm made a sudden hard right turn of well over a degree, with its track now well east of the VI, and it also slowed down, with the closest approach to occur early on Sunday morning. We landed a little after 1 PM to sunny skies, 86 degrees, the slightest of breezes, calm seas, and a now very out of place and hot rain slicker.
The ferry ride over was very calm, with no swells. We were excited to get back to Coconuts, and check out the improvements since our last visit. All of our deck furniture had been stowed indoors in preparation for the impending storm. I don't know if it had anything to do with TS Rafael, but the sunset was fantastic.
We headed down to town for chicken and ribs at Uncle Joe's BBQ. Starfish Market had closed at 4 PM, "due to the inclement weather". The residents of Cruz Bay were clearly terror-stricken, and did their best to cope by cranking up the reggae at Cap's Place, and fortifying themselves with Carib and Red Stripe. We headed back up to a lovely star-filled sky. Around 11 PM, the stars could no longer be seen, but the breeze was still bog-standard for Gifft Hill, and not a drop of rain had yet fallen. I set out a coffee mug on deck to record the soaking still presumed for the early Sunday approach, but just awoke to find little in it other than a trace of morning dew. The sky is a mix of clouds and blue this Sunday morning; the sun is shining, and we have a mild and typical breeze. Given that the storm is going to pick up speed as it continues north, today should be a fine day, with what we hope to be another gorgeous sunset.
2012 has been well below average on rainfall, so on one level all the cisterns could have used a healthy soaking, but it is what it is. It's important to take storm warnings seriously, but this one was a total no-show. The bulk of the rain bands and energy had always been to the east of the core, so when that turned and headed well east of the VI, the whole thing slipped quietly by in the night. My storm reporting career has proven to be a bit of a dud. Oh, and it is BOUND to rain heavily sometime in the next two weeks, and I for one will be fully prepared in my yellow rain slicker!