Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's hurricane season in the Atlantic again.

Actually it's been hurricane season since June 1st and as is normal, the Atlantic hasn't seen a named storm yet. The very old hurricane season rhyme went like this:
JUNE too soon
JULY Standby
AUGUST come it must
SEPTEMBER remember
OCTOBER all over

I am not sure if in the old days weather was very different, but as long as i have been alive this rhyme has been a month off. June and July in the Caribbean are as described in the Rhyme, but August and September should be grouped together with September being a far more active storm month than any other month.
We have also learned that October isn't totally all over, and if i remember correctly 2 of the 6 hurricanes that we have been hit by since the 1950s hit us in October. Anyway, the ryhme is a good guide when making plans for a sailing cruise through the Caribbean (as i am at the moment). In between storms which can occasionally pass the weather in the summer is the best all year in my opinion with beautifully clear waters and calm seas.
Interestingly, Antigua has only been directly hit by 6 hurricanes since the mid 1950s and I think all six happened in August, September and October. We have had many close calls and even some very bad weather from the cloud bands coming off hurricanes passing well to our North or South as in the case of Omar last year. Sometimes the only storm conditions we get are huge surfing waves which have been pushed in from hundreds of miles away where a passing storm is churning up the ocean.
In my lifetime, the worst hurricane we got was Hurricane Louis or Luis as it has now been called. That was a cat 5 when it hit according to the US Navy base which was here at the time but what was the worst thing about it was the fact that it was moving slowly. We had hurricane force winds for a day and tropical storm force winds or more for nearly two days. Many houses had damage and most hotels did as well. Both my mom's and my dad's houses fared well in that storm proving that if built well, wood can hold up.
Anyway, the first "blimp on the radar" was picked up by one of the super computer models yesterday (read more about these "models" and how hurricane forecasting is done here).
My good friend Steve mentioned on facebook that he had read on Crown Weather that there was something being detected. Here is today's weather discussion on this private weather site. Click here.
Interest Area 2: Another area I am closely watching is completely based on the GFS model. An area of impressive looking shower and thunderstorm activity is located over western Africa this morning. The GFS model insists that this convective complex will develop into a tropical cyclone as soon as this weekend. None of the other global models are forecasting development across the eastern Atlantic, so I remain pretty skeptical that it will happen. Also, the GFS model has been doing very poor with tropical cyclone forecasts so far this season in that it has been forecasting false storms and handling upper level patterns very poorly. So with no other real model support, I am pretty skeptical that this will indeed happen.

With that said, the environmental conditions are favorable for development and will remain favorable for at least the next few days. Sea surface temperatures, however, are actually below normal across the eastern Atlantic and this would inhibit development until this disturbance approaches the Lesser Antilles during Wednesday and Thursday of next week where sea surface temperatures rise to above normal for this time of year.

So, with all of this said, there is the possibility of something to watch in the eastern Atlantic this weekend into next week, but I have very low confidence of it actually happening.

I also think that it's kinda early for that type of thing. I also think that the massive amount of African dust in the air at the moment will do as it normally does and stop any storm from getting strong. Read more on African dust coming across the Caribbean here. In that blog post there is a link showing how this increased dust levels kill storm production. Interesting stuff. Anyway, I am not cancelling my sailing plans just yet. This time next week i hope to be 200 miles from home in the BVI enjoying Pussers Pain Killers!