Dangerous Surfs to Threaten Beachgoers in Antigua and Barbuda Easter Monday

17 04 2017

Dale C. S. Destin |

Those heading to the beaches in Antigua and Barbuda should be wary of the threat of strong rip currents Easter Monday through Wednesday.

Seas Forecast Apr 17, 2017

Beaches on the northern and eastern sides of the islands will be at greatest risk for stronger and more frequent rip currents through midweek, due to large swells. Seas are on the rise and will peak on Tuesday with a combination of wind waves and swells nearing 3.0 metres (10 ft) occasionally reaching 3.8 metres (13 ft).

A huge low pressure system near the centre of the North Atlantic is pushing large swells to the region. Meanwhile, the winds in the area are on the increase, which will cause a rise in the wind waves.

Low pressure systems

Rip currents are not new to our shores. They are always present in situations like this and are characterised by water flowing away from the shore. The strength of the current is usually proportional the height of the swells.

Vacationers and residents should take precautions while at the beach. It would be prudent to seek out only beaches under the watch of lifeguards, if possible, and heed all warnings issued. The west facing beasches should be least affected.

Should you ever get caught in a rip current, never attempt to swim directly back to shore as you will be swimming against the current. Instead, swim parallel to the beach to escape the current’s grip before swimming ashore.

Small craft should use caution and heed all advisories, as seas will also be rough.

Similar sea conditions are forecast for most of the rest of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the eastern parts of the Bahamas, the Winward Islands and Barbados. The swells will also eventually reach Trinidad and Tobago and the Guyanas late Tuesday.

It is also likely to be a somewhat wet Easter Monday as the same low pressure system mentioned above is pulling a lot of moisture across the islands. The range of the possible rainfall total is wide – 0 to 12 mm (0 to 0.48 in).

The increasing wind will peak late Easter Monday at around 16 knots (18 mph) over open waters and 13 knots (15 mph) over land. Frequent higher gusts will take place.

Seas will return to near normal levels on Thursday.





Storm-Force Wind Gusts and Hazardous Seas Are Returning to the Area

7 03 2017

Storm-force wind gusts and hazardous seas are returning to the area. The weather will be generally good but the increased winds will cause the lower atmosphere to become somewhat unsettled, giving rise to occasional showers.

The Met Office has already issued a small craft warning and this is expected to continue in place through, at least, Friday. Given the expected conditions, small craft operators should not venture far from port, especially on the windward side of the islands. Beachgoers should avoid the waters of the north and east facing beaches.

The expected strong gusts will also make some outdoor activities very uncomfortable if not dangerous. At least, light objects should be secured, as minimal storm conditions are possible. Please be guided accordingly.

The wind speed will steadily rise to 28 to 44 km/h (17 to 28 mph) by late Tuesday and continue in that range until Thursday; thereafter, subsiding. Wind gusts as high as 67 km/h (41 mph) are possible in showers. The prevailing winds will be east-northeast.

The major concern about the winds is the impact on the seas. They will cause the seas to become very hazardous, with heights reaching 4 metres (13 ft), occasionally reaching 5 metres (17 ft) late Tuesday and staying at those heights until Friday, when they will start to subside.

These conditions, especially the seas, will not be dissimilar to what would obtain during the passage of a tropical storm through the area. However, no such system will be around.

The brunt of this windy weather will be felt mainly over open waters on the windward side of the islands, windward coastlines and elevated places.

The gale-force or storm-force wind gusts and associated strong winds will be as a result of a very steep pressure gradient across the area. Recall that winds blow due to pressure differences or pressure gradients, and the greater the gradients the stronger the winds and vice versa.

The last episode of similarly strong winds and rough seas was a recent as last week.

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The Fourth Longest Sub-Twenty Cold Spell for Antigua and Barbuda

23 01 2017

Dale C. S. Destin |

Last night’s cold weather makes the current sub-twenty °C (sub 70 °F) cold spell the fourth longest on record at the Airport and most of the rest of Antigua and Barbuda. It tied with February and December of 1973.

With a mean minimum temperature of 18.6 °C (65.5 °F), it is also the second coldest sub-twenty cold spell for the country, on record, lasting more than three consecutive nights. The mean minimum temperature for the past four nights ranged between 11 and 22 °C (71.6 °F) with the vast majority of places experiencing sub-twenty temperatures.

jan2017coldspelltemps

The last time the Airport had a temperature below 18 C was in 2000 – 16 years ago.

We are also looking at the coldest four-night period for January since 1980 – over 35 years ago, and since 2000 for all other months, at least, at the Airport.

Of the eight times we have seen this spell lasting more than three days, it has gone for four days twice and five days thrice, based on data for the Airport.

The record five-day sub-twenty cold spell is shared by March 1997, January 1984 and March 1972. The coldest one is March 1972 with a mean minimum temperature of 18.5 °C (65.3 °F).

So far for January, the mean minimum temperature at the Airport is now 21.9 °C (71.4 °F) – below normal. The mean daily temperature is well below normal with a value of 24.6 °C (76.3 °F).

There is now about a 50/50 chance the record will be tied tonight, as conditions could favour sub-twenty temperatures once again. If it were to happen, this cold spell would likely become the longest as the chances of sub-twenty temperatures are high for Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Usual January temperatures are expected after Wednesday.

The statements above are truest for the Airport and surrounding areas; however, from a qualitative assessment, it is applicable to the rest of the country.

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A Hat-trick of Sub-Twenty Temperatures for most of Antigua and Barbuda

22 01 2017

Dale C. S. Destin |

Last night’s cold weather makes it a hat-trick of sub-twenty temperatures for most of Antigua and Barbuda. This is a fairly rare feat for the country. It has only happened seven other times during January, based on historical data for the Airport. The last time it happened in January was back in 1996 – 20 years ago. The last time it happened for any month was in March 2000.jan2017temperatureWhereas the last hat-trick of sub-twenty temperatures occurred last in January 1996, the coolest such period last took place in 1992. It is also the coolest such period, for all months, last occurred in March 2000. This and the rest of what is said here is an update on the previous blog.

The mean minimum temperature for the past three nights, at the Airport, was 18.5 °C (65.3 °F). This is the eighth coldest for three or more days in a row with sub-twenty temperatures at the Airport. Further, it is the 12 coldest for any three-day sub-twenty spell (overlapping and otherwise).

When we consider such a three-peat of sub-twenty temperatures for all months dating back to 1971, it has only happened 27 previous times.

So far for January, the mean minimum temperature at the Airport of 22.0 °C (72 °F) is below normal. However, up to three days ago, it was bordering on above normal – meaning we were having relatively warm nights for this time of the year. The mean daily temperature is well below normal with a value of 24.7 °C (76.5 °F).

As cold as it has been, it certainly has NOT nearly been cold enough to freeze water. Thus, that picture being circulated suggesting that the cold weather caused a small body of water to freeze in Free Town is a HOAX. For this to happen, we would need to have sub-zero temperatures persisting for days, which will NEVER happen.

There have only being five occasions when sub-twenty degree nights have occurred for more than three consecutive nights. Tonight is likely to be the sixth time this has happened. So far, today has been coldest of the past three days.

After tonight, the weather will warmup to usual temperatures for this time of the year. Then the cold weather will more likely than not return on Wednesday and continue on Thursday. Thereafter, the usual temperatures for this time of the year is expected to prevail for the rest of the month.

Although we are unable to say definitively how cold the country or specific areas have been due scarcity of historical temperature data, it is likely the coldest since 1996. This is based on fact that temperatures across a small homogeneous area like Antigua and Barbuda are highly correlated. And since it is the coldest for the Airport since 1992, it should be likewise for the rest of the islands.

From a quantitative standpoint, the statements above are truest for the Airport and surrounding areas; however, from a qualitative assessment, it is applicable to the rest of the country.

Follow us for all you need to know about this mini-cold spell we are experiencing. We can be followed on twitterfacebookinstagramtumblrflickrgoogle+, and youtube for education and information on all things weather and climate.





How Cold was Antigua and Barbuda Last Night?

20 01 2017

Dale C. S. Destin |

By Caribbean standards, the last two nights were very cold for Antigua and Barbuda. One of the coldest spots on the islands was Free Town, which had a minimum temperature of 13.9 °C (57.0 °F) night before last and 11.6 °C (52.9 °F) last night.

picture2jan212017picturejan202017The 11.6 °C  is now the lowest temperature ever measured by the Met Office. It eclipsed the previous short-lived record of 13.9 °C. However, it is unlikely to be the lowest temperature ever experienced in Free Town or by the country. The lowest ever measured is not the same as the lowest on record or in history.

Unfortunately, apart from the Airport, there were NO reliable temperature sensors elsewhere across the country until a few years ago. There exists very little historical data for Free Town, as the station was only installed last January. The same is true for most of the other stations listed above. Thus, regrettably, I am unable to say definitively just how cold it was in Free Town and most of the other locations.

The only site for which historical data exist is the Airport. The minimum temperature measured at the Airport last night was 18.4 °C (65.1 °F); this is well above the record of 16.1 °C (61.0 °F), measured back in December 1974 and January 1976.

Making some reasonable assumptions and using the Airport’s temperature from last night as a “barometer” for the rest of the country, last night was the coldest January night since 1996 and the 12th coldest dating back to, at least, 1971.

Last night, the minimum temperature range for Antigua and Barbuda was 11.0 to 21.0 °C (52 to 69.8 °F) . The previous night it was 13.0 to 22.0 °C (55.4 to 72 °F). It is possible that a few areas had temperatures slightly below or above this range.

The cold weather last night was due to the time of the year, light winds, mostly clear skies and low moisture levels. Last night was colder than Thursday night mainly because moisture levels were lower. These conditions will continue for the next 24 hours; hence, tonight is expected to be similarly cold. Thereafter, the winds will increase and so will the temperature.

With the few cold nights, some have advanced the notion that we are having a colder than usual January. However, this is not borne out by the data at the Airport, thus far. The mean minimum temperature up to two days ago, at the Airport, for the month was 22.6 °C (72.7 °F), 0.2 °C above the average of 22.4 °C  (72.3 °F).

The cold weather was also experienced across most of the rest of the northeast Caribbean for the second night also. Le Raizet, Guadeloupe had a minimum of 17.6 °C (63.7 °F) night before last and 16.8 °C (62.2 °F) last night, meanwhile Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport in Anguilla had 19.4 °C (66.9 °F) and 20.2 °C (68.4 °F) respectively.

Will it be colder tonight, with some places having sub 10 °C (sub 50 °F)? Follow us via our social media platform:  twitter,  facebook,  instagramtumblrflickrgoogle+, and youtube and stay informed. We would also be happy to hear from you regarding how cold you felt and your experience with the weather generally.





Potentially Drought-Busting Rainfall This Week

17 04 2016

Dale C. S. Destin |

A trough system could potentially cause drought-busting rainfall across Antigua and the rest of northeast Caribbean during this week. The system could dump up to 150 mm (6.0 in) of rain on the Leeward Islands and the Virgin Islands over the next six days, starting  tonight – Sunday night.

GFS forecast rainfall total for the period 2 pm, April 16 to 2 pm, April 23, 2016

GFS forecast rainfall total for the period 2 pm, April 15 to 2 pm, April 22, 2016

We could get drought-busting rainfall i.e. sufficient rainfall to bring a welcome end to the meteorological and agricultural droughts taking place across Antigua and nearby islands. However, it is unclear as to whether it will be enough to replenish surface catchments and aquifers to end the more serious socioeconomic droughts, which are costing the islands dearly. Nevertheless, the rainfall is likely to put a big dent in this drought also.

Given the potential amount of rainfall that could occur, at least moderate flooding is possible of low-lying and flood-prone areas across the northeast Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda. Thus, the requisite watches and warnings may be required for portions of this week.

GFS probability forecast of total rainfall for April 17-23 exceeding 75 mm (3 in)

GFS probability forecast of total rainfall for April 15-22 exceeding 75 mm (3 in)

GFS probability forecast of total rainfall for April 17-23 exceeding 150 mm (6 in)

GFS probability forecast of total rainfall for April 15-22 exceeding 150 mm (6 in)

A number of weather models, including two of the best – the Integrated Forecast System (IFS) and the Global Forecasting System (GFS), are showing very high probabilities of this week being very wet, especially relative to April. However, it is not a 100% certain. Further, the eventual rainfall total is quite uncertain.

Most for the precipitation is likely to be in the form of rain from layer-type clouds as opposed to the showers from convective-type clouds. Notwithstanding, thunderstorms are possible every day from Monday to Friday. The sun could also be hidden by thick clouds for most of the week.

The normal rainfall for April is 85.6 mm (3.37 in). On record dating back to 1928, April 1981 is the wettest with 245.4 mm (9.66 in), and the driest is April 1944 with 5.8 mm (0.23 in). At the V. C. Bird International Airport, the normal rainfall for April 17-22 is 12.7 mm (0.50 in). The wettest was 1992 with 112.0 mm (4.41 in) and the driest of 0.0 mm occurred on at least six occasions since 1961.

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The Status of Cold Temperature Extremes for Antigua

10 02 2016

Dale C. S. Destin |

Last week we had an extremely cold night (relative to our climate) and a few cool nights which led some persons to ask with “tongue-in-cheek” if we going to have snow. Are cold extremes becoming more or less frequent? What can we expect as our climate changes?

When I was growing up, I remember it was very common place to see our breaths (as mist) in the mornings, due to extremely low temperatures, at this time of the year. It was fun for us as we would pretend to be blowing smoke from our mouths and also blow mist onto the mirrors and then draw or write on them.

The fact is, such low temperature extremes, are decreasing fairly rapidly. So, the cold nights we had last week, are becoming more a thing of the past or a once in a “blue moon” event. 2015 had a record low number of extremely cold nights – 6 or 2% of the number of nights for the year; the next fewest is 2002 with 14 or 4%.

ExtremelyColdNights

Data at the V. C. Bird International Airport (VCBIA), where the Met Office is located, show a significant decline in extremely cold nights, while extremely warn nights are on the increase but not yet considered to be rising significantly.

ExtremelyWarmNights

Extremely cold nights here mean nights with the minimum temperature in the bottom 10-percentile based on the climate period 1971-2000. Extremely warm nights are those with minimum temperature in the top 10-percentile.

This year in particular, nighttime lows are expected to be much higher than normal due mainly to the ongoing El Nino or warmer than usual sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across the equatorial Pacific.

El Nino causes higher than normal surface pressure across the equatorial Atlantic, which acts to weaken the trade winds. Weakened trade winds then translate into warmer than normal SSTs and the air in contact with it; hence the warmer than normal nights.

As our climate changes, cold extremes will continue to decrease and warm extremes are expected to increase. Thus, the drop in temperature to cold extremes will become fewer and the spikes to warm extremes will become more and more common place

Weather extremes are generally undesirable. Cold extremes cost us nothing as it is fairly easy to warm ourselves. On the other hand, warm extremes have negative implications for our health, economy and ecosystem.

So far for the year, there have been fewer than normal extremely cold nights at the VCBIA – one, and more than normal warm nights – nine or 23% of nights to date for 2016.

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