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.

windjan142017

windgustsjan142017

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.

seasjan142017

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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