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Weather discussions by Gert & Dave during the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The homepage with the links to local reports from the islands, latest satellite image, current weather outlook can be found here.

Thursday, May 21, 2020 12:16PM PDT - NOAA predicts busy hurricane season
Some more hurricane news... NOAA's Climate Prediction Center just came out with their forecast. They say that there is a 60% chance that it will be an above-normal season (30% near-normal and 10% below normal). They are forecasting 13-19 named storms (12 is normal), 6-10 hurricanes (6 is normal) of which 3-6 will be Category 3 or higher (3 is normal). Factors driving this is the absence of El Nino conditions, above normal sea surface temperatures, reduced vertical wind shear and weaker trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon. They will update their forecast in August, just before the peak. On June 4 Colorado State will issue their updated forecast. Back in April they predicted 16 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes, so also an above normal season. Read more on the NOAA website. -Gert

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 13:32PM PDT - Amphan and stronger storms
Two pieces of hurricane news..., Cyclone Amphan made landfall in West Bengal, India, close to the Bangladesh border. Sustained winds were 100 mph, making it equivalent to a Category 2 "Atlantic" hurricane. One major problem is the flooding, because of the low-lying river deltas in this region... Another problem is that people are reluctant to go to emergency shelters because of COVID-19. This storm was once a "Category 5" storm, and underwent extremely rapid intensification: over 36 hours winds increased by 110 mph, from 50 to 160 mph!

That brings me to my second topic, a paper was just published in PNAS by NOAA scientist, noting that climate change ("global warming") is indeed causing stronger storms, esp. in the Atlantic. See also this article in the Washington Post. This is a big deal since storm force increases exponentially (not linearly) with windspeed. The little sidebar on the right shows that there is a big difference in storm force between the different category hurricanes, even though windspeeds differ only by about 15-25 mph. In the WP news article, meteorologist Elsner is quoted as: "Hurricane destruction in the United States, in terms of physical damage costs, has historically increased by 10 percent for every 5 mph increase in wind speed".

The PNAS study finds that the chances of a storm becoming Category 3 or higher is increasing about 8 percent per decade. Also, not only are storms stronger, and due to higher seawater temperature, wetter, they also seem to intensify much more quickly, like Amphan did, and as we have recently seen in the Caribbean, like Maria. So, unfortunately it looks like we will see more 'big ones' in the future... More the reason to be well prepared... -Gert

Sunday, May 17, 2020 10:52AM PDT - First storm
Hurricane season hasn't even officially started yet and we already have the first storm of the season. Yesterday tropical depression One formed off the east coast of Florida and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Arthur a bit later that day. It is of no worries to us in the Caribbean, but it may pass close to North Carolina tomorrow. It is not expected to become a hurricane.

This is the 6th year in a row that a tropical storm has formed before the official start of hurricane season (June 1) according to Brian McNoldy. He also shows that there is indeed a trend that storms form earlier. However, no need (yet?) to change the official start of hurricane season, because it is still pretty seldom that a hurricane forms outside hurricane season (see the First Storm of the Season page, hmmm, I really have to update that with more recent data). -Gert

Wednesday, May 13, 2020 07:40AM EDT - It's that time again!

Good morning!

Back in the saddle for another installment of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. I hope everyone is getting prepared for this season, forecast to be an unusually active period. On top of the Covid-19 virus which the world is rightly focused on, we cannot forget what possibilities loom ahead the next 6 months. Plus, it might start early with a subtropical system, given a high (70%) chance of forming somewhere around or north of the Bahamas this weekend. If it does develop, which would be more sub tropical than tropical characteristic wise with a cold core, then it's name would be Arthur. Note that these systems were not even named until about 2002 by the NHC or even tracked by the NHC until the 70's.

The major contributing ingredient for this possible development will not come from the south east or the east but rather from the far west initially. Florida, in a good deal of drought, could use a rainmaking system like this, but alas it looks like the Bahamas will be the beneficiary although South Florida could get some of these effects. Gusty winds, maybe some flooding and heavy rain is probable in the Bahamas as this system will move quickly towards the NE and away from the east coast of the US.

The official start of the season in the Atlantic is June 1 while the East Pacific season starts on May 15th. Currently, a soon to be typhoon named Vongfong, is about to cause wind damage and flooding in the central and northern islands of the Phillipines while potential development, brewing for over a week, is possible in the Bay of Bengal. As Gert shared, some of these names are eerily familiar. Bertha is one I know well as she visitedÂthe Virgin Islands a mere 10 months after Cat 3 Marilyn's destructive nighttime assault. While Bertha was only a Cat 1 at the time, the winds and rain only compounded the misery of rebuilding after Marilyn.Â

May is National Mental Health Awareness month and we all are dealing with the stress and fear of Covid -19 both mentally, physically and financially. Please prepare now if possible for this upcoming hurricane season as no one needs the worry of a double whammy of hurricanes and the virus. If your prepared, then your mental health anyway will be in a much better position to deal with the event if manifested.

Take care, be safe and well, and prepare.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020 15:11PM PDT - Almost time...
It is kind of hard to focus on with COVID-19, but the official start of Atlantic Hurricane Season is only a few weeks away... I just made my website ready for the 2020 season, which always involves moving around lots of files, updating webpages and scripts, etc., etc... Hopefully all will still work... Now is a good time for you as well to start planning for the next season (if you are allowed to go to the store...).

The new names are posted above. The names repeat every six years. Remarkable storm names are retired, but since 2014 was a quiet season, none were taken of the list. Although some names, like Arthur, Berth, Dolly and Edouard sound eerily familiar from previous seasons... -Gert

Monday, April 27, 2020 12:00PM PDT - Look, no shadow!
Not hurricane related, but since most of us are sheltering in place something fun to observe! Chris Bolt (Hogan) on Grenada told me that it is that time of the year that the sun is directly above us, so it will not cast a shadow! The date and time (not exactly at noon) that it will happen depends on the island. For some it has already passed, but it should still be pretty close. Hogan made a list that Jurgen on Barbados posted yesterday.

The no shadow effect should make for some interesting pictures. See for example the Pringles can below with no shadow made by Hogan. Jurgen posted some on the Barbados page as well. Since we are all spending a lot of time at home now, maybe a fun thing to do is make a creative picture and post it (or send to me if you are not a correspondent)! Make sure that your object or whatever is on a level surface.

If your island is not listed you can follow Hogan's directions below to find the exact date/time for you:
Use the Heavens Above website: Select your Location
Click on 'Sun' and look at Maximum Altitude, then change the date until you see the figure in the altitude column get as close to 90 as possible.
This is also a good website if you want to see the International Space Station go over; on the main page click on Satellites - ISS. Lots of other useful info too.

Enjoy, looking forward to see some creative photos! -Gert

No Shadow!

Thursday, April 2, 2020 11:50AM PDT - Above average season expected
First of all, hope you are all doing well with regards to the COVID-19 global crisis. Social (or better physical) distancing is the keyword these days. This is of extreme importance in order to flatten the curve so that hospitals don't get overwhelmed. It might seem silly if you don't know anyone who has the virus, but models really show that it works. Don't do it just for yourself, but think of others. You could make other people sick just by going out and about.
In any case, just 2 more months before Atlantic Hurricane Season officially starts. Today the first of their quantitative hurricane forecasts was published online by Klotzback et al. from Colorado State University. It seems that we are in for an above average season... They expect a total of 16 named storms (12.1 is normal), 8 hurricanes (6.4 is normal) and 4 major hurricanes (2.7 is normal). The chance of at least one major hurricane tracking through the Caribbean (a big area) is 58%. Normal is 42%. The state of ENSO (El Nino vs. La Nina) is always important for us. El Nino conditions usually means a slow season, and La Nina will be more busy. Now it looks like ENSO conditions won't be either, or maybe a weak La Nina. The big driver this year seems to be the higher than normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic.
Some recent analog years (years with similar ocean and atmospheric conditions) are 1996 and 2008. Looking through the archive I remember for 1996 Bertha and Hortense and for 2008 Gustav, Hanna, Ike and Paloma. This might of course be totally different from your perspective... In any case, as I always say, one hurricane in your backyard will spoil your whole season. Always try to be prepared as best as you can.... -Gert

Maintained & moderated by: Gert van Dijken (
Weather discussions also by Dave McDermott, St.Thomas, USVI.

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