Dale C. S. Destin |
Fresh to strong gusty winds are causing hazardous seas across most of the Caribbean. This is expected to continue beyond Easter Monday (March 28).
Based on observations from met. offices and weather buoys, the winds were in the range of 15 to 22 knots (17-25 mph) with gusts in excess of 32 knots (37 mph).
In some areas, the winds were much stronger. At the Norman Manley International Airport, Jamaica, peak sustained winds of 26 knots (30 mph) were measured. No doubt parts of that island had gusts in excess of 34 knots (39 mph) – the equivalent to gale force or tropical storm force winds.
Winds were strongest across the Caribbean Sea, south of Jamaica. Today, Buoy 42058 measured winds in the range of 21 to 25 knots (24-29 mph) with gusts reaching 32 knots (37 mph).
Buoy data show the Caribbean Sea, especially south of Jamaica, is basically impassable by boat due to tremendously hazardous seas reaching as high as 4 metres (13 feet). Across the waters Eastern Caribbean, seas are near 2.5 metres (8 feet) and building.
The strong winds are in response to the high pressure gradient across the region. Winds blow as a result of differential pressure. The greater this differential is i.e. higher the pressure gradient, the stronger the winds and vice versa.
As the winds increase, the friction on the underlying sea surface results in building seas or wind-driven waves. The stronger the winds, the higher the wind-driven waves and vice versa.
A further increase in the pressure gradient is forecast over the next 24 hours. Hence, winds and seas are expected to get higher. Thus, marine conditions are expected to become even more treacherous tomorrow.
Seas could exceed 4.5 metres (15 feet) across the waters between Jamaica and Panama. Meanwhile seas and could exceed 2.7 metres (9 feet) mainly on the Atlantic (east) side of Barbuda, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Dominica and Martinique.
The winds could increase by another 2 to 5 knots (2-6 mph) with gusts in the upper 20s to lower 40s knots ( upper 20s to upper 40s mph).
Clearly, it goes without saying that mariners should not venture far from port and sea-bathers should be extremely careful. As a matter of fact, sea-bathers should avoid the beaches on the northern and eastern sides of the islands. For Hispaniola and Jamaica, beach-goers should also avoid the waters on the southern side of those islands.
The strong winds could also make some outdoor activities very uncomfortable to perform, if not outright dangerous. This is especially true of work at elevations. Please be guided accordingly.
The winds will start to subside on Sunday. However, seas will not return to safe levels until around Wednesday.
Cuba is the only Island being spared by the strong winds and hazardous seas.