Storm-Force Winds and Hurricane-Like Seas to Impact Antigua and Barbuda This Weekend

17 12 2016

Dale C. S. Destin |

Significant tightening of the pressure gradient across the area is expected to cause strong winds with frequent gusts to storm force strength or gale force. The seas will respond to the strong winds and become very rough.

Surface chart

Surface Chart for Sunday 8 am, Showing a Tight Pressure Gradient As Evident by the Closeness of the Isobars (pressure lines)

The winds – they will generally be in excess of 18 mph (16 kt) from late Saturday night to Monday afternoon. The winds will peak as high as 30 mph (26 kt) with frequent gusts between 38 and 46 mph (33 and 38 kt) Sunday morning to Monday morning.

High Sustained Winds

Sustained Winds

Wind Gusts

Wind Gusts

The seas –  they will respond to the winds and become very rough, rising to as high as 3.9 metres (13 ft) on Sunday night. Waves will rise above six feet by Saturday morning and remain above this height through midweek. Waves of 2.7 to 3.9 metres (9 to 13 ft) will prevail from Saturday night to Wednesday. Waves are expected to fall off rapidly after Wednesday.



The cause – as indicated above, it is the substantial tightening or steepening of the pressure gradient.  This is in response to a very strong surface high pressure system moving from west to east across the Atlantic from the United States.  This will NOT be due to any tropical cyclone (tropical depression, tropical storms or hurricane).

Fundamentally, wind blow as a result of pressure differential (pressure gradient). The greater the pressure between point A and point B (pressure gradient) the stronger the winds.

Where – the strong winds will mostly take place over open waters, exposed eastern coastal areas and elevated areas of Antigua and Barbuda. The seas will be roughest in the Atlantic coastal waters east of the islands, as the winds will be generally easterly. Similar conditions are expected across most of the rest of the Eastern Caribbean. However, Antigua and Barbuda could get the worst of it.

Precautions – The Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services have issued warnings for sea-bather and small craft operators. The former should avoid the beaches, especially those on the Atlantic or eastern side of the islands, and the latter should not venture far from port, at least, until Thursday.

A small craft warning generally means that wind speeds in excess of 16 knots is causing or expected to cause hazardous sea conditions to small craft within 24 hours. Inexperience mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels should avoid navigating these conditions.

According to the Beaufort Scale, gale-force winds run from 39 to 54 mph (34 to 47 kt). Operating a vessel in gale conditions requires special expertise and specially equipped vessels. It is highly recommended that mariners without the proper experience seek safe harbour prior to the onset of gale conditions.

The strong winds, especially if frequently gusting to gale force, could also make some outdoor activities very uncomfortable if not hazardous, please be guided accordingly.

We will be keeping a close eye on this developing situation and keep you informed via our social media platform: twitterfacebookinstagramtumblrflickrgoogle+, and youtube.


May to October 2016 Climate Outlooks for Antigua

3 05 2016

Dale C. S. Destin |

The May to October 2016 climate outlooks are now available for Antigua. In the short-term, the news remains bleak regarding rainfall. However, in the long-term, there is relieving news, as above normal rainfall is likely for the period August-October. Meanwhile, uncomfortably warm temperatures are expected for the upcoming six months.


Notwithstanding a wetter than normal week in April, droughts (meteorological, agricultural, hydrological and socioeconomic) continue across Antigua. We are now entering the 35th month of mostly moderate or worse rainfall deficits.

Currently, a moderate drought or worse is evolving over the periods – February to July 2016, October 2015 to August 2016 and November 2015 to October 2016. All three periods are likely to have below normal rainfall. Drought warnings remain in place and will likely continue into the third quarter of the year.


The current El Nino looks to be on its last gasp. It will transition to a neutral state around the middle of the year and possibly to La Nina during our wet season. La Nina, unlike El Nino, generally encourages rainfall across our area, mainly during the wet season. Although still distant, we appear to be drawing nearer to the light at the end of the tunnel i.e. the end of the droughts.

Precipitation and Temperature

Over the coming three months – May to July, below to near normal rainfall will result in the droughts continuing, at best, slight, and at worse, re-intensifying to serious levels.

Meanwhile, August to October will likely see above normal rainfall. Thus, some droughts may come to an end during the latter half of the upcoming rainy season. However, there remain large uncertainties as to how wet the rainy season will eventually be.

So far, 2016 has been wetter that last year; however, it’s running over 50 mm (2 in) below average. The dry season (January-June) is likely to be drier than usual, and at best, the year will have near normal rainfall.

The heat will likely be on for much of the rest of the year. Warmer than normal temperatures are probable for MayMay-July and August-October.

See the following links for the full outlooks; rainfall: MayMay-July, August-OctoberMay-October 2016 and April Drought Outlook.

The next set of outlooks will be available by June 3, 2016.

The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Early Forecast

15 04 2016

Dale C. S. Destin |

Early forecasts just issued for the upcoming 2016 Atlantic hurricane season (AHS) indicate a near normal season is most likely. However, relative to the past three years, this season could be much more active.

Ensemble forecast

The ensemble (mean) forecast, based on predictions from Klotzbach of Colorado State University, Saunders and Lea of Tropical Storm (TSR) and, is for 13 named storms, 6 becoming hurricanes and 3 becoming major hurricanes.


A better indicator of the activity for the season is the accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) index which is a measurement of the strength and duration of each tropical cyclone. Summing together the ACE of each cyclone, provides a more complete picture of how active the season is likely to be outside of just the number of storms.

This year, the ensemble forecast calls for an ACE index of 85. If this forecast pans out, the 2016 season would be around 136%, 27% and 35% more active than 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively.

It must be noted though that there is very low skill in forecasting the AHS (June to November) in April. However, this is the best available forecast for the season, at this time, and can be used as a guide for what is possible. A more skillful forecast will be available around June 1.

End of Atlantic active phase?

Around 1995, the AHS went from a quiet to an active phase. The average annual number of named storms increased from 9 to 15. There is now increasing evidence that we have seen the end of that active phase.

If the active phase has in fact ended, it would mean a reduction in the mean number of tropical cyclones (depressions, tropical storms, hurricanes) across the Atlantic over the next 20 to 30 years. This would translate to an annually reduced probability (chance) of us being impacted by a tropical cyclone between now and around the year 2041.

The x factors

There are at least two climate factors that could cause the hurricane season to be quieter than is currently being predicted. El Nino is ongoing and is virtually synonymous with inactive AHSs. The forecast is for a transition from El Nino to neutral conditions around the middle of the year and possible La Nina around October. However, if El Nino were to persist beyond summer, we would see another quiet hurricane season. On the other hand, La Nina could lead to an active season.

The second potential inhibitor of the 2016 AHS is the transport of cooler-than-normal sea-surface-temperatures (SSTs) into the tropical North Atlantic by ocean currents originating south of Greenland. Reduced SSTs hinder tropical cyclone formation and growth.

Probability of Antigua being hit by a hurricane

According to Klotzbach, the likely best similar years to the upcoming 2016 AHS are 1941, 1973, 1983, 1992, 1998 and 2014. Of these years, we were hit by Hurricane Georges and Tropical Storm Bonnie in 1998 and Tropical Storm Christine in 1973. Thus, based ONLY on similar years, the probability of Antigua being hit this year by one or more named storms is around 39%, while the probability of one or more hurricanes is around 15%.

In general, the probability of Antigua being hit by one or more named storms annually appears to vary according to the phase of the Atlantic. During the quiet phase of 1962 to 1994, the probability of one or more named storms was around 26%, while the probability of one or more hurricanes was around 14%. Meanwhile, for the active phase of 1995 to present, the probability of one or more named storms increased to around 55%, while the probability of one or more hurricanes is around 35%.

Based on the climatological period of 1981-2010, the probability of being hit by one or more named storms is around 41%, while the probability of one or more hurricanes is around 28%.

2015 hurricane season and lessons learnt

The 2015 AHS was quiet; it produced 11 named storms, 4 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. The ACE index total was 63, the fourth lowest since 1995. Notwithstanding it being a quiet year, Antigua was affected by Tropical Storms Danny and Erika. Damage was minor; however, closure of the country for around 24-hours, due to threat from Erika, caused an unknown loss of revenue.

Erika serves as a perfect reminder of the fact that flooding is a hazard associated with tropical cyclones. The system caused catastrophic flash floods across parts of Dominica, killing dozens of people. I our part of the world, we tend to focus a bit too much on the wind hazard associated with these systems.

Another lesson learnt was that it only takes one named storm to make it an active or miserable hurricane season for us. Thus, quiet season or not, the same hurricane season preparations are required each year.

Follow us and stay updated on the 2016 AHS via our social media platform, which includes twitter, facebook, wordpress, instagram, tumblr, and google+. Follow us also for all things weather and climate.

Our May Newsletter is now Available

19 05 2015

Dale C. S. Destin |

We’d like to present you with our May newsletter. In this newsletter, you’ll find highlights of recent weather and climate news. Additionally, there are outlooks for the upcoming six months. Links are also provided for further information. Please read and feel free to share you feedback.



Follow us also on @anumetservice, facebook and tumblr for the latest on the current drought and other weather & climate news.

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