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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Very Hazardous Marine Conditions for Antigua and Barbuda

14 01 2017

Dale C. S. Destin |


High Surf

High Surf

The shoreline Antigua and Barbuda and the rest of the northeast Caribbean are getting hammered by high surfs. Additionally, starting today, seas in open waters will become very unfriendly to small craft operators. As a result, the weather authority in Antigua and Barbuda has issued special marine statements on the high surfs and rough seas.

Surfs are building – they are expected to range 8-12 feet (2.4-3.6 m) between today and Monday, affecting mainly northern and eastern coastlines. These high surfs are being generated by a low pressure system located just northeast of the area, which is pushing very large swells to our shores.

There is a high risk of rip currents, especially over the next 24 hours when the surfs are expected to peak. Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore, which occur most often at low spots or breaks in the sandbar and in the vicinity of structures such as groins such as jetties and piers.

The winds will become fresh to strongthey will frequently be in excess of 18 mph (16 knots) from today to Wednesday. The winds will peak at around 30 mph (22 knots) with occasional gale-force gusts to the around 39 mph (34 knots) today and Sunday likely.  These winds will primarily take place over open waters, coastal areas on the northern and eastern side of the islands and elevated areas.



The seas will respond to the winds – they will become very rough, rising to as high as 3.6 metres (12 feet) on Saturday night Sunday. Waves will decrease to less than 2.0 metres (6 feet) by Wednesday.


The cause of the strong winds – this is due to a significantly tight of the pressure gradient (horizontal differential of pressure) across, which will tighten a bit more over the next 24 hours. The relatively tight pressure gradient is in response to a strong high pressure system moving from west to east across the Atlantic from the United States. There are NO tropical cyclone (tropical depression, tropical storm or hurricane) in the area.

Surface Chart

Surface Chart for Saturday 8 am, Showing a Tight Pressure a Tight Gradient as Evident by the Closeness of the Isobar (Pressure Lines)

Precautions – Sea-bathers should avoid the waters, mainly on the northern and eastern sides of the islands until Tuesday. Small craft operators should not venture far from port through Monday.

A high surf warning means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing beach erosion and dangerous swimming conditions.

A small craft advisory means that wind speeds of 24-38 mph (21 to 33 kt) and or seas of 7 feet (2.1 m) or greater are expected to produce hazardous wave conditions to small craft. Inexperienced mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels should avoid navigating in these 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.

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Easter to See More Hazardous Marine Weather Across Most of the Caribbean

26 03 2016

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).

Credit UCAR

Hazardous seas; Credit UCAR

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.

Weather report

Weather report from Norman Manley Int’l Airport – Mar 25, 2016, 2 pm local time

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.

Buoy data for March 25, 2016

Buoy data, seas for Mar 22-26, 2016 GMT/UTC

Buoy Data

Buoy data, wind speed Mar 22-26, 2016 GMT/UTC

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.

Surface chart depicting high pressure gradient evident by the closeness of the isobars (black lines)

Surface chart depicting high pressure gradient evident by the closeness and high quantity of the isobars (black lines)

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.

Forecast Seas

Forecast Seas (feet), valid 2 pm (1800 UTC), Sat, March 26, 2016

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).

Forecast Winds

Forecast Winds (knots), valid around 11 am (1500 UTC) Sat, Mar 26, 2016

Forecast Gusts

Forecast Gusts (knots), valid around 11 am Sat, Mar 26, 2016

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.

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Needed Showers but Unwelcome Hazardous Seas for Much of the Caribbean

7 03 2016

Dale C. S. Destin |

A cold front is sweeping the Caribbean, bringing much-needed showers but unwelcome strong winds and hazardous seas.


Already, more than an inch of rain has fallen in parts of Cuba and Hispaniola over the past 72 hours. Meanwhile, winds have reached near 20 knots (23 mph) with stronger gusts across Cuba. Seas are near 3 m (10 ft.) and rising, mainly across the northern waters of the Bahamas.

The front is expected to reach Trinidad by around Thursday/Friday, which is very unusual for such a system to go so far south into the Caribbean.

As it moves across the region, showers will spread to the Virgin Islands today; the Leeward Islands late Tuesday/Wednesday; the Windward Islands and Barbados Wednesday/Thursday and Trinidad and Tobago Thursday/Friday.

Most of these islands will likely see rainfall totals in the range of 10-40 mm (0.40-1.60 in). At least minor inland flooding is possible across some islands.


Forecast 5-Day Rainfall Total for the Period March 7-11, 2016

Strong winds and rough seas will reach the various islands within 24 hours after the arrival of the front and continuing for up to 120 hours after the front passes. Thus, by Friday, most of the waters of the Caribbean will be having hazardous seas and will require the requisite warnings for mariners and sea bathers. Seas could peak near 3.5 m (12 ft.) across some areas.


Most areas will see sustained winds in excess of 20 knots (23 mph) with gusts across a few islands reaching gale force strength of near 40 knots (46 mph). Higher elevations can expect higher speeds.


With the combination of strong winds, sea swells and wind-driven waves, flooding of low-lying coastal areas due to large breaking waves is possible. Damage to coastlines can also be expected.

The strong winds could also render some routine outdoor activities uncomfortable if not hazardous.

We will continue to follow the progress of this system and keep you posted. Meanwhile, pay attentions forecast coming from your local meteorological office for information specific to you location.

Growing Concerns for the Atlantic Challenge Rowers

11 01 2016

Dale C. S. Destin |

Concerns are growing for Team Wadadli (or Team Antigua) and the rest of the rowers participating in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Marine conditions are expected to become extremely unfavourable, if not exceptionally dangerous for the seafarers.

Tweet of concern

Tweet of concern

By now, you may have heard of the very powerful extratropical low pressure system that could transition into the first tropical cyclone (generic term for tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes) over the Atlantic in January since 1978.

Extratropical cyclone with centre marked by X, next to the red L. 0600 UTC, Jan 11, 2016 Surface Chart

Extratropical cyclone with centre marked by X, next to the red L. 0600 UTC, Jan 11, 2016 Surface Chart

Transition or not, the low/tropical cyclone is expected to generate across the paths of many of the rowers, ginormous seas, possibly reaching six metres (20 feet) and sustained storm force winds (greater than 34 knots/39 mph). Such severe marine conditions will easily cause boats to capsize and be injurious the occupants, if not worse.

Wave Height (ft), Valid Tue, Jan 11, 2016, Issued Jan 11 at 6 AM AST

Wave Height (ft), Valid Tue, Jan 11, 2016, Issued Jan 11 at 6 AM AST. The box at the top right indicates the seas Team Wadadli and many others could face tomorrow.

Wind Speed (kt), Valid Tue, Jan 11, 2016, Issued Jan 11 at 6 AM AST

Wind Speed (kt), Valid Tue, Jan 11, 2016, Issued Jan 11 at 6 AM AST. The box at the top right indicates the winds Team Wadadli and many other could face tomorrow.

Additionally, unfriendly winds and currents will stop, if not push rowers backwards, towards the starting point instead of the finish line – Antigua. Initially, the unfavourable winds will come from the south, then the west and then north over the next few days in the vicinity of the racers.

Last night, Team Wadadli was forced to “drop” its sea anchor as they were being push towards the bad weather by southerly winds. They also reported that the seas were building. It is not clear how long they will stay in “anchorage”. However, this strategy (of which there are very few) may not be the best for the situation.

tweet from team wadadli

Note that a sea-anchor also known as a drift anchor does not stop a boat from moving, it just slows and stabilizes it in heavy weather. The Race Tracker shows that Team Wadadli, as of 8 am this morning, was still moving towards the bad weather at 1.4 knots (1.6 mph), perhaps on a collision course with what could become Tropical Storm Alex, which is also moving towards them.

Tracker showing the locations and progress of the boats as of 8 am this morning

Tracker showing the locations and progress of the boats as of 8 am this morning

The Tracker also showed many, if not all of the boats were in a similar situation.

If Team Wadadli remains drift anchored, instead of finding away to get out of the southerly flow (drifting from south to north), they could find themselves in a lot of trouble along with many of their competitors.

By my projections, in the next 24 hours, Team Wadadli, could find itself well northeast of its current position, heading out over the North Atlantic, in seas over 4.5 metres (15 feet) and winds greater than 28 knots (32 mph). Of even greater concern is that they could get caught up in the southwesterly winds (winds blowing from the southwest) and move northeast with the bad weather for several days.

Other teams, especially those that are east of longitude 35 degrees west, could suffer a similar fate.

I don’t know what’s the organizer’s criteria for the race to be suspended or cancelled but conditions must be getting pretty close to meeting them.

The low/tropical cyclone will severely affect this year’s edition of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. If the rowers were up for a challenge, the upcoming days will fulfil their desire. Let’s hope they come out of it in flying colours with a heck of a story to tell.

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Cheerful Seas Ahead for Atlantic Challenger

4 01 2016

Dale C. S. Destin |

Good news for rowers taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, racing to Antigua and Barbuda.  After angry seas for most of the last 15 days, since the challenge started, cheerful marine conditions are expected to greet the challengers after midweek.

The daredevil rowers, including Team Wadadli (Antigua) are currently experiencing fresh to strong winds of 17 to 23 knots (20-26 mph) with wind gusts as high as 30 knots (35 mph). Seas are very rough with heights of 2.4 to 3 metres (8 to 10 feet).

Wave Height (m), Valid Mon, Jan 4, 2016, Issued Jan 4 at 6 AM AST

Wave Height (m), Valid Mon, Jan 4, 2016, Issued Jan 4 at 6 AM AST

The current marine conditions are extremely dangerous. For such conditions in coastal waters, warnings would be in effect and small craft operators, such as these rowers, would be told not to venture far from port. However, I guess, therein lies part of the challenge.

The race was set to start on December 16 but was delayed by hazardous marine conditions to December 20.

Although not very reliable beyond a week, wind wave models are forecasting relatively comfortable sea conditions from around January 7 to January 19. After the middle of this week, the winds will generally stay under 16 knots (18 mph) and seas less than 1.8 metres (6 feet). Until then, the racers will continue to be battered by angry waves.

Wave Height (m), Valid Thu, Jan 7, 2016, Issued Jan 4 at 7 AM AST

Wave Height (m), Valid Thu, Jan 7, 2016, Issued Jan 4 at 7 AM AST

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge dates back to 1997. Initially, it was a bi-annual event but it‘s set to become annual confrontation of the Atlantic. It rows-off from the Canary Islands and ends, as of 2005, at the Historic Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour, Antigua and Barbuda. It covers a journey of around 4.7 million metres (2930 statute miles).

The Progress of the Rowers as of 8 am AST. Team Wadadli's Position is Marked in Plum with a bold White Outline

The Progress of the Rowers as of 8 am AST. Team Wadadli’s Position is Marked in Plum with a bold White Outline

For the first time a team from Antigua and Barbuda is taking part in the race. The team can be followed here on facebook. They are currently in 11th place; however, the focus for them is on the challenge of completing such a race.

Boats should start to arrive in Antigua at in the next 17 days, or so, to hundreds of welcoming Antiguans along with the seafarers families and friends.

Let’s hope the weather after Wednesday give them much cheers until they reach our shores.

A Tropical Wave to Shower the Leeward Islands

21 06 2015

Dale C. S. Destin |tropwaveJun21

A tropical wave is expected to raise our rainfall total over the next 24 hour. It will likely shower the island with 5 to 10 mm (0.20 to 0.40 in) of rain as it traverses the region. It’s possible that rainfall total could reach as high as 25 mm in some places.


Already, the system has dumped over 25 mm of rain on parts Barbados with more rain in the forecast. The Windward Islands and the rest of the Leeward Islands are also in for some much needed showers, from the tropical wave.

Many of the islands are in the midst of droughts and are thirsty for rainfall. For example: as of the end of May, Antigua only had two more months of surface water remaining, according to Ian Lewis, Water Production Manager of the water authority. Meanwhile, the Government of St. Lucia has declared a “water emergency”.

The wave will also cause a surge in the winds and seas across the Eastern Caribbean. Winds are expected to rise to near 20 knots, mainly over open water and elevated places. Wind gusts to near 28 knots will also take place.

Seas_June 21

In response to the strong winds, the seas will become hazardous with heights reaching 2.4 m (8 ft), especially on the eastern side of the islands.

The winds alone will make some outdoor activities, such as working at heights, uncomfortable if not dangerous.

While the rain is expected to subside by the end of tomorrow (Monday), strong winds and rough seas will continue until Wednesday. Given the situation, mariners should really stay near shore until winds and seas subside to safe levels.

Given the rainfall deficits across much of the region, the possible rainfall totals from the tropical wave are only “drops in the bucket”. However, we are in a very desperate position; hence, we will cheer for every and any shower.

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