Strong Winds and Hazardous Seas to Impact Parts of the Caribbean

22 01 2019

As the winds go, so go the seas. As the winds go up the seas will go up and become hazardous across the Bahamas, Cuba and Jamaica, in the western Caribbean, to around Anguilla in the northern Leeward Islands.

Hazardous Seas – Credit UCAR

The winds and wind waves have already started to pick up across the islands mentioned above, particularly the western Caribbean. The winds will eventually get to the range of 34 to 53 kmh (21 to 33 mph) through Thursday. Consequently, seas will become hazardous with wind waves of 2.5 to 3.5 metres (8 to 12 ft), occasionally reaching 4.5 metres (15 ft).

The highest and most dangerous waves will take place across the waters of the western Caribbean, where the winds will be the strongest. Outside of the islands listed above, including Antigua and Barbuda, the wind waves will unlikely reach 2.5 metres (8 ft), as the winds are not expected to get sufficiently high.

Advisories and or warnings to mariners, particularly small craft operators, will be required and already Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands have issued such.

As a small craft operator, if an advisory is issued – inexperienced mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels should avoid navigating in these conditions. If a small craft warning is issued – you should stay in or very near port.

Potential impacts from this hazardous sea event include injuries or loss of life, damage or loss of boats and fishing equipment and disruption to sea transportation. Other possible impacts comprise of:

  • disruptions to sea search and rescue;
  • scarcity of seafood;
  • disruptions to off shore marine recreation and businesses;
  • business and economic losses.

On the other hand, the strong winds could result in disruptions to air transportation and outdoor sporting activities, soil erosion, vehicular accidents and financial losses.

As the winds go, so goes the seas; however, as the pressure gradient goes so go the winds. The winds will become strong because the pressure gradient will become quite tight across the northern islands. Think of pressure gradient like a hill and the wind as a car. The steeper the hill the faster the car will roll down the hill and vice versa.


Surface Chart for 2 pm (18 UTC) Today. Note the Seven Relatively Close Isobars (Black Lines) on the Left (Western Caribbean) Compared with the Four Widely Spaced one on the Right (Eastern Caribbean). The Pressure Gradient and Winds are Much Higher across the West than the East.

Note, unlike the blog from yesterday that spoke about swell waves, this blog is focusing on wind waves. What is the difference? Swells are waves generated by distant winds and are of danger primarily to users of the near shore, beaches and coastlines. On the other hand, wind waves are locally generated and are mainly of danger to mariners using off shore waters.

The strong winds and hazardous seas will subside to relatively safe levels by late Friday. Keep following my blog and other media – TwitterFacebook and Instagram for more on this event and all things weather and climate.


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