[IMG: Luis; Credit: Norm Nelson, Bermuda Biological Station for Research - http://www.bbsr.edu/Weather/]

The Hurricane Page
- - 1 9 9 8 - -

Updates from the Islands

What is going on now?

Archive of weather discussions and eye witness reports from the Caribbean Islands in the 1998 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Postings are in reverse chronological order (so it might be easier to start reading at the bottom of this page and work your way up to follow the timeline). For current events look here.

- - - Frances - - -
For the latest NHC advisories and satellite images see our Quick Hurricane Web Resource Navigator
The Practical Guide to Hurricane Tracking has all kinds of definitions and other helpful info

September 8 17:05EDT - Tropical Depression 6 Forms in the Gulf of Mexico
Pressures were dropping, therefore the large 'Earl-like' area of disturbed weather in the Gulf has now officially been classified as a tropical depression. It's poorly defined center is currently located about 220 miles southeast of Corpus Christi (Texas). Since this system does not threaten the Caribbean islands we will not cover its progress on this website. However, there are many other good websites listed in our Quick Hurricane Web Resource Locator.

September 8 10:15EDT - Still quiet in the Caribbean
There is a tropical wave located east of St.Vincent, between 10 and 13N. No development is expected. Another strong wave just came off the African coast. It looks quite impressive, but that may change quickly as we have seen before. So, except for the Gulf of Mexico, not much going on...

September 4 09:25EDT - No news is good news!
This time is 'statistically' the peak of the hurricane season, but there is hardly any activity. Danielle disappeared up north, Earl is raining out on land and the below mentioned tropical wave is just moving along without any signs of development. A new wave came off the African coast, but doesn't look impressive as of yet, another area in the Atlantic is too far south for any development. So, let's keep it this way, and blame it on La Niña, El Niño, or whatever...

September 1 12:35EDT - The wave just east of the Islands
The tropical wave we have been following for a while is now located just East of the Leeward islands. This wave is still quite strong, and the National Hurricane Center expects some thunderstorms and gusty winds over portions of the Leeward Islands. It has the potential to develop in our next tropical depression.

- - - Earl - - -
For the latest NHC advisories and satellite images see our Quick Hurricane Web Resource Navigator
The Practical Guide to Hurricane Tracking has all kinds of definitions and other helpful info

September 1 8:50EDT - Tropical Storm Earl
After a hurricane hunter aircraft has investigated the area of disturbed weather which has been monitored for a while in the SW Gulf of Mexico, this area has been classified as a named tropical storm, thereby bypassing the 'tropical depression' stage. Since this system does not threaten the Caribbean islands we will not cover its progress on this website. However, there are many good websites listed in our Quick Hurricane Web Resource Locator.

August 29 18:50EDT - Another tropical wave is on its way...
Bonnie is gone, Danielle doesn't seem to be a threat, but now there is another tropical wave (still far) in the Atlantic. It is located at about 15N, 35W. This wave is still disorganized, but during this time of the year conditions are usually very favorable for development. So we'll keep an eye on this one. There is also a large cluster of undisturbed weather in the far western Caribbean, moving into the Gulf of Mexico. This should not pose any threat for the Caribbean islands.

August 27 9:05EDT - What's next?
So Danielle seems to go bypass the islands, the tropical wave we reported about didn't develop in to anything (though it caused gusty winds on a couple of the islands; see the previous reports from the hurricane correspondents on the islands). The Tropical Outlook doesn't expect any tropical storm formation for the next few days. There is a tropical wave about half way in the Atlantic, however, it is pretty far south (between 5 and 10N). This usually means that it won't develop into threatening system for the Caribbean islands. So, it seems relatively quiet for now..., despite all the action going on!

[Mon, 24 Aug 1998 10:14EDT] - Irvine Niffikeer reporting from Trinidad and Tobago (visit his homepage):

     The hurricane season in Trinidad and Tobago has been very quiet to date. I
     hope it stays that way.
     As you may have observed, the tropical waves/depression very often starts
     along 11N and about 700 to 1000 km East of our island. Alex and Bonnie went
     harmlessly away. A tropical wave is passing through the Eastern Caribbean
     but Trinidad and Tobago enjoyed beautiful weather over this weekend. We
     were just out of the bad weather.
     People in Trinidad and Tobago have to be on the look out for storms. The
     Met. Office gives releases whenever bad weather is approaching. The TV
     stations carry weather reports every night during their news broadcasts
     between 2300UTC and 2400UTC.
     The people are informed by TV and radio.
     Sometimes the satellite images are a bit misleading eg. like this evening.
     I looked at a satellite picture at 2100z and it showed bad weather over
     Trinidad and Tobago. A group of 13 of us went to one of our beaches on an
     offshore island. We had a wonderful day. It was a bit cloudy but there was
     no rain.
     So when you are in a far off country and one looks at some of the satellite
     images one can get the wrong impression of what is actually happening.
     Do not get me wrong. I am not condemning the images. I think it is a matter
     of timing.
     Trinidad and Tobago have been experiencing very high
     temperatures for the past 2 weeks.

August 24 9:20EDT - Two waves
The below mentioned tropical wave has more or less crossed the Windward islands (see below). It still shows no signs of development, but that may change in the future. More to the east though, is another 'promising' tropical wave. It is located at around 30-35W, so still far away from the islands. However, the Tropical Weather Outlook reports that this one 'has the potential to develop into a tropical depression in the next 24 hours'.

[Mon, 24 Aug 1998 01:42EDT] - Carreau Christian reporting from St.Martin:

     It is 01h40 in the morning. I am from saint-martin we have a lot of  gusts. 

[Sun, 23 Aug 1998 22:42EDT] - Fred Capello reporting from Curaçao:

     The strong tropical wave located on Sunday evening over the eastern
     Caribbean seems to move with most of the associated activity once
     again to the north of the A-B-C islands. Still, some high cloudiness
     began to move in later in the evening. Hopefully a few showers will
     develop later at night or on Monday morning. According to the latest
     computer generated forecasts, our surface winds should become
     northeasterly on Monday and light and variable on Tuesday. That's if
     this thing becomes a tropical depression.

     The outflow of hurricane Bonnie hasn't helped this system in
     developing. We need the rain badly in Curaçao. July 1998 in many
     places on the island was the wettest ever. But most of the rain fell
     in the first twelve days. After that, most locations got less than 10
     mm until August 23. The latest rainfall forecasts don't look very
     promising. It should be noted though that these forecasts have been
     wrong in the past, forecasting lots of rain. So I hope they are wrong
     again but this time the other way around.

     One more thing: the upper air winds at about 40,000 feet have been
     unusually strong during the past few days and from the east! That's
     typical for a non-El Niño year. During El Niño years, easterly upper
     level winds are very rare above 25,000 feet. It's not a coincidence
     that the tropical cyclone activity increased so dramatically during
     the past few days.

[Sun, 23 Aug 1998 19:13EDT] - John Fuller reporting from Antigua:

     wave passing thru now. only northern edge here but good squall or two.press
     @ 7pm=1010.3mb. in squalls wind speed 20 -35 mph.heavy rain
     accompanies.most passed south. guadeloupe had heavy rain all day. some
     thund. and lighten. here.all in all not much to it.we hoped for more
     rain.what's next?

[Sun, 23 Aug 1998 18:14EDT] - Hanniff Sutherland reporting from St.Vincent:

     Today was very rainy, earlier around 12 noon, there was about 95% cloud
     cover, with a steady downpour which eased off around 2pm
     at present 1810 there is about 25% cloud cover with no wind. every thing
     looks calm in St Vincent

August 23 13:55EDT - Rain in Barbados
Gail Smith, who lives on the west coast of Barbados, reports that they are "currently experiencing steady rain. Started approx 6am ... no sign of strengthening or letup.... however no winds at present."

- - - Danielle - - -
In order to conserve bandwidth the discussion and island updates have been moved to here.

- - - Charley - - -
For the latest NHC advisories and satellite images see our Quick Hurricane Web Resource Navigator
The Practical Guide to Hurricane Tracking has all kinds of definitions and other helpful info

August 21 11:50EDT - TD#3
Tropical Depression #3 has formed in the Gulf of Mexico. This pages are focused on the Caribbean, and since this system will not threaten any of the Caribbean islands, no updates will be posted here. Sorry. Visit the links above for alternative websites.

- - - Bonnie - - -
In order to conserve bandwidth the discussion and island updates have been moved to here.

- - - Alex - - -
For the latest NHC advisories and satellite images see our Quick Hurricane Web Resource Navigator
The Practical Guide to Hurricane Tracking has all kinds of definitions and other helpful info

August 14 9:15EDT - Summary
For your files: a summary of Alex by Gary Padgett

August 3 10:30EDT - Alex is gone...
Sunday the last advisories were issued on Alex, it has gone up in the clouds. That's one down (with no impact on the islands), ?? more to go...

[Sat, 1 Aug 1998 06:40EDT] - William Glover reporting from Nevis:

     Alex seems to be turning into what I have been looking for: the prospect
     of a couple of inches of rain to wash in the fertilizer that I am going
     to start spreading around the palms and citrus trees this afternoon.
     dampen the ardor of those carnival celebrants not yet filled with
     ardent spirits, but you can't please all of the people all of the time.

July 31 11:00EDT - Alex falling apart...!?
Seems like Alex is in trouble. The system is exposed to some wind shear which is not conducive for strengthening. The three day forecast keeps maximum winds at 45 kts (50 mph). Also the forecasted track keeps Alex well away from the islands (although a little closer than the last two forecasts).
Current center location: 15.5N, 49.5W; maximum sustained winds near 50 mph. It is moving west again (quite slowly at 12 mph), but should move more to the west-northwest later on.

[Thu, 31 Jul 1998 6:34EDT] - Jim Mollitor reporting from Puerto Rico:

     The skies are sunny and blue, here in central Puerto Rico.  Of course the
     hot topic of the day here is....... the plebicite bill and our political
     status.  I have heard talk, rumors really, of a new guy coming to town.  I
     think his name is Alex.  I don't think he is very popular though, as hardly
     anyone talks about him, and when they do they say stuff like he is
     disorganized and will not amount to much.   Our political status may be
     stormy, but the weather is calm.  We are all prepared for the hurricane
     season, but so far it is much ado about nothing.  The next couple of months
     should be more interesting.

July 30 23:00EDT - Off the hook!?
Good News! The latest advisories indicate that the northwesterly motion has finally started, and looking at the weather patterns ahead (which are quite complex in fact), the weather forecasters at the National Hurricane Center forecast that Alex will go way north of the islands!
Current position: 15.8N, 47.6W, max.sustained winds near 50 mph. Alex is moving quite slowly north-northwest near 13 mph. Slow strengthening is still expected, but even though tropical storm force winds extend at the moment up to 115 miles from the center (and will be further out later on), as it looks right now, they will be out of reach of the NE Caribbean Islands!

[Thu, 30 Jul 1998 19:33EDT] - Roy Bossons (Roys Place) reporting from Anguilla:

     As Alex appears to grow more organized and to head in our direction their
     appears to be very little concern on Anguilla, perhaps a little  more effort to
     connect that generator and finish to off those shutters etc.;. Anguillans
     remain philosophical , being as you might say on the front line of this
     potential 1st hurricane of the 1998 hurricane season, they look upon these
     initial storms as forays intended to prepare us for later  battles.
     General consensus is that  at this time of year on this track it will pass to
     the north or even start to head directly north.

[Thu, 30 Jul 1998 15:07EDT] - Curt Waite reporting from Antigua:

     From my observations, not many in Antigua seem to be too concerned about Alex
     at this point.  Business as usual.  Nobody usually gets too excited over
     tropical storms here.  Wait until it becomes a hurricane.  Besides, Carnival is
     in full swing and that has most people's attention.

     We'll see what happens by tomorrow night.

[Thu, 30 Jul 1998 14:29EDT] - William Glover reporting from Nevis:

     General attitude at Nevis as of early Thursday afternoon, especially
     since carnival (Culturama) started yesterday,  is that Alex is still too
     minor a storm and too far away to give it much thought although most are
     listening in or watching the Weather Channel.

     Certainly none as yet cleaning up the yard or tieing the roof down.

[Thu, 30 Jul 1998 13:44EDT] - Alan Scholl reporting from Antigua:

     People are talking about it but as there have been no official
     announcements regarding any danger, it is all pretty quiet. My neighbour
     is boarding up all his windows but I suspect it may NOT be Alex related
     but a general hurricane season boarding up as he is a bit old and I guess
     would not have time to do it if it became necessary.

     Currently it is Carnival and everyone is in a festive mood. I do recall a
     few years ago, that there was actually a hurricane watch issued and yet
     everyone still turned out in the streets for a big "jump up".

     I am however closely watching Alex as it should be just a bit too close
     for my liking...

[Thu, 30 Jul 1998 12:01EDT] - Steve Coghlan reports the following from Antigua:

     Most Antiguans are aware but not really worried at this stage. There
     is still a feeling that Alex will pass to the North of us.

July 30 11:25EDT - Getting Closer
Some good and bad news; first the good news: Alex is strengthening slower than expected. It won't even reach hurricane status before it is in the neighborhood of the islands. On the other hand, it looks like that Alex will pass pretty close to the north-eastern islands anyway...
The center of Alex is currently located at: 14.8N, 46.1W. The maximum sustained winds are near 50mph (hurricane strength = 74mph). It is still moving west, near 15 mph. Tropical storm winds extend up to 115 miles from the center. This means that effects of Alex may start to be felt in about 60 hours (2.5 days). Maximum sustained winds at that point of time are expected to be around 70mph.

July 29 11:05EDT - Slowly strengthening
Alex is currently located at 14.1N, 41.3W, with maximum sustained winds near 40mph. Alex is still moving westward at a speed 20mph. A turn more to the north is expected for later today. For it to pass north of the islands the sooner it takes a more northernly track, the better. Slow strenghtening is expected, it might reach (minimal) hurricane status in 3 days. In conclusion, as it looks right now I still think Alex will pass north of the islands, although I am less confident than yesterday. The 3-day forecast shows a more westerly track than before. In any case, it won't be a 'killer' hurricane!

July 29 8:50EDT - Alex
Last night at 11pm TD#1 was upgraded to tropical storm Alex. More later when the 11am advisories come in.

July 28 16:30EDT - Almost...
The advisories from the National Hurricane Center are in again (see here). TD#1 is very close to being Tropical Storm Alex, but it is still classified as a depression. It's current location is near 13.5N, 36.7W (about 1400 miles from the islands). Westward motion has increased somewhat to 24mph (about 58 hours from the islands). It still looks that the center will stay clear from the islands, however, this is a big (though not strong) system, effects might still be felt...

July 28 10:25EDT - It's still just a depression...
TD#1 is strengthening slower than expected. Maximum sustained winds are still only near 35mph. It's current position is: 12.9N 33.9W. Slow strengthening is still forecasted, but even if it becomes a tropical storm, I think that it will pass north of the islands anyway.
John Fuller from Antigua reports the following (dated: 27 Jul 1998 19:05EDT):

     its the 27th aug and t.d.no.1 is already out there and it looks v.
     interesting.it seems that everyone here knows about it already. and already
     people are making plans!its v. hot and nearly flat calm here---a condition
     associated locally with pre-storm conditions.will keep you informed.

July 27 10:40EDT - The first one!
Just after I posted the update below, the National Hurricane Center upgraded the wave in the far Eastern Atlantic to Tropical Depression #1. If it develops into a Tropical Storm it will be named Alex. The current position is: 11.5N, 27.0W, it is moving toward the west near 23mph (around 3.5 days/85 hours from the Leeward Islands if it maintains this speed). It is still a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds near 30mph. Conditions are favorable for slow development (sea surface temperatures are quite high and there is not much wind shear), therefore this depression is forecasted to reach tropical storm status in 24 hours. See our Quick Hurricane Web Resource Locator for latest advisories.

July 27 10:25EDT - The first one?
The tropical wave which just came off the African continent remains, unlike a couple other ones before, well organized. It is currently located south of the Cape Verde islands. Satellite images of this system look quite impressive. Stay current by checking the advisories issued by the National Hurricane Center (for links to these (esp. the Tropical Outlook is worth checking out) see our Quick Hurricane Web Resource Locator).

July 22 9:50EDT - Remember last year...?
The Atlantic is warming up. There is quite a lot of activity; a few tropical waves. But nothing points to any organization into 'something'. Last year around this time we already had 4 tropical systems! Hurricane Danny made landfall on July 18, 1997 in Louisiana... (see for more info: The 1997 Season).

July 15 11:30EDT - Hurricane Hunters
I just added a page about the brave Hurricane Hunters, who fly right into the eye of a hurricane to get the valuable data for forecasting. It is written by Martha Watkins Gilkes from Antigua, and was published in the LIAT Islander Inflight Magazine. Find it at: http://gobeach.com/hurrhunt.htm.
On another note, seems like the Atlantic is warming up. Some (disorganized) disturbed weather halfway between the coast of Africa and the islands. Will keep you posted...

July 6 21:25EDT
Just a quick update, the area of disturbed weather in the Western Caribbean does not have a low pressure associated with it, as of yet. However, it could develop into 'something'. The following is quoted from the Tropical Weather Outlook of the National Hurricane Center (for the latest advisories and satellite images see our Quick Hurricane Web Resource Navigator):


July 6 10:00EDT
The tropical wave which was located east of the Windwad Islands a couple of days ago has moved into the Caribbean Sea. It still has some potential to develop into something, but for the Caribbean Islands it should not pose a big threat, apart from rain and probably some gusty winds.
A new wave has approached the Windward Islands, however, upper level winds prevent any organization at this time.

July 1 22:50EDT - It's heating up...
The National Hurricane Center is closely watching 2 areas of disturbed weather in the Caribbean. The first one is located in the Gulf of Mexico, the second one east of the Windward Islands. Development, if any, will be slow. Check out the Tropical Weather Outlook (see our Quick Hurricane Web Resource Locator) for the latest information.

June 25, 1998 12:50EDT - Slow development
The latest Tropical Weather Outlook shows that the below mentioned system, which is now located in the Gulf, has become a little better organized. It might even become a tropical depression, but it is unlikely that it will become a tropical storm, let alone a hurricane. This system will probably cause some rainfall and gusty winds in the coastal areas of Texas and Louisiana, but nothing much to worry about.

June 24, 1998 9:30EDT - Some disorganization
It has been pretty quiet so far on the Atlantic side, but from the satellite pictures it looks like something is brewing in the north-western Caribbean Sea. Although upper level winds are not really unfavorable for further development, there is still no low pressure center associated with this 'system'. According to the tropical outlook, "development, if any, is expected to be slow". See also our Quick Hurricane Web Resource Locator for advisories and satellite images.

June 8, 1998 11:00EDT - Updated forecast indicate an average season
Dr. Gray and his research-team have just released their updated forecast of Atlantic seasonal hurricane activity. Last year's season was far below average, heavily suppressed by the strong El Niño. Unfortunately it looks like that El Niño will not play the same role this year. El Niño is fading away fast, and expected to be gone by mid-August, just before the statistically most active part of hurricane season. Taking into account many other atmospheric and oceanographic indicators, the researchers at Colorado University forecast an 'average' season, with 10 named tropical storms, of these it is expected that 6 will develop into a hurricane, of which 4 will be Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Compared to their earlier forecasts, the current one projects a just slightly more active season (see below). More details can also be found on the Colorado State University Website. Links to El Niño forecasts are listed below as well.

The next forecast will be issued on Thursday, August 6, just before the active part of the season starts. Dr. Gray has always indicated that he forecasts the hurricane activity, and not where and when hurricanes will hit. But on June 12 they will issue just that kind of forecast, in which they will detail the statistical probability of U.S. coastal landfall of intense (category 3-4-5) hurricanes for 1998.

June 1, 1998 11:00EDT - Here we go!
Today hurricane season has officially started. Let's hope it will be a quiet one or that the storms will stay far away from any landmass! Below the names and pronunciations of this year's systems:


     ----         -------------          -----      -------------

     ALEX                                LISA          LEE-SA
     BONNIE                              MITCH
     CHARLEY                             NICOLE        NI-COLE
     DANIELLE       DAN-YELL             OTTO
     EARL                                PAULA
     FRANCES                             RICHARD       RICH-ERD
     GEORGES        ZHORZH               SHARY         SHA-REE
     HERMINE        HER-MEEN             TOMAS         TO-MAS
     IVAN           EYE-VAN              VIRGINIE      VIR-JIN-EE
     JEANNE         JEEN                 WALTER

May 27, 1998 13:00EDT - False alarm!
Very unlikely that the below mentioned disturbance will develop into anything tropical storm-like. The planned reconaissance flight, which was going to investigate the system, was even canceled today by the National Hurricane Center.

May 26, 1998 14:00EDT - Early start?
Still a couple days before the official start of the Hurricane Season, but could this be the first one? The National Weather Service in Miami has issued a special tropical disturbance statement (so far not too threatening):


April 7, 1998 - Bill Gray's second forecast released
Today Dr. William Gray and his research team at Colorado State University released their second forecast of hurricane activity for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. In short: a slightly below average season with 9 tropical storms, of which five develop in hurricanes with 2 intense hurricanes. The forecast is very dependent on when El Niño will disappear. Now it looks like before the start of the active part of the hurricane season in mid-August. If El Niño hangs around longer, a less active season is expected. More information can be found on the Colorado State Website. For comparison with previous years/forecasts look below (December 5, 1997 update).

December 5, 1997 15:00EST - 1998 Hurricane Season expected to be slightly below average
The first forecast of the 1998 Atlantic Hurricane season has been released today by Dr. Gray and his team at Colorado State University. The most uncertain part of their forecasting scheme is the length of time that El Niño is expected to be around next year. In general, the longer it lasts, the fewer storms will develop. Several computer models developed by different research groups indicate that strong cooling conditions (= start of the end of El Niño) will set in by early summer. Dr. Gray and his team think that El Niño will be gone by early August next year, just before the peak of hurricane season. So unfortunately it doesn't look like that the effects of this El Niño will carry over to next hurricane season like it did with the previous strong El Niño ('82-'83).

It is forecasted that next season will bring 9 named tropical storms, of these 5 will develop into a hurricane of which 2 will be Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale. This is slightly below average; the net tropical cyclone activity is expected to be 90% of normal. See the table below for intercomparison of the next season with the last couple of seasons. This forecast will be updated on 7 April 1998, 5 June 1998 and 6 August 1998. If El Niño will dissipate sooner than expected, it will be likely that the current forecast will be adjusted upward, and vice versa. A more detailed discussion can be found on the Colorado State University website at: http://typhoon.atmos.colostate.edu/forecasts/. Since next year's season seems to depend heavily on El Niño, it may by worthwhile to check from time to time one of the several published and continuously updated El Niño-Southern Oscillation forecasts. These can be found on the NOAA-website, see esp. the one by the Forecast Forum from the Climate Prediction Center.

                     |  'normal'    1998       1998       1998       1998     1997      1996      1995      1994
                     | 1950-1990  Aug.6/98   Jun.5/98   Apr.7/98   Dec.5/97
                     |            forecast   forecast   forecast   forecast
   Named Storms      |    9.3        10         10         10         9         7        13        19         7
   Hurricanes        |    5.8         6          6          6         5         3         9        11         3
   Major Hurricanes  |    2.3         2          2          2         2         1         6         5         0
   Named Storms Days |   46.6        50         50         50        40        28        78       121        28
   Hurricane Days    |   23.9        25         25         20        20        10        45        62         7
   Major Hurr. Days  |    4.7         5          4          4         3         3        13        12         0
   Net Tropical      |
   Cyclone Activity  |   100%      110%       100%        95%       90%       54%      198%      237%       37%

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