The Northern Caribbean Set to Experience its Worst Swell Event for the Season

5 02 2022

Dale C. S. Destin |

Strong winds from a low-pressure system, some distance away, are pushing relatively large swells toward the northern Caribbean and the Bahamas, including Antigua and Barbuda and the rest of the Leeward Islands. Swells have started to arrive and will reach warning levels tonight through much of Saturday night.

NOAA Station 41044 – NE ST MARTIN – 330 NM NE St Martin Is showing relatively tall swells heading toward the northern Caribbean

This will be no Swellmageddon but it will be the worst swell event of the swell season: December to April. This event will see swell waves coming from the north-northeast at 2 to 3 metres (7 to 10 ft). Occasionally, they will reach 4 metres (near 13 ft). Though it will be no Swellmageddon, it will not be your garden variety swell event, as surf warnings are required.

Video by Windy.com showing swell heights
The possibility of significant wave heights (SWH) equaling or exceeding 3 metres or 10 feet. This is likely to expected in the northern coastal waters, according to the ECMWF IFS Model.

These swells will be virtually harmless in open waters, but they will be a very different “kettle of fish” when they run up on reefs and exposed northern and eastern coastlines which are relatively shallow and gentle to moderately sloping. In these environs, surfs (breaking swells) could be as much as twice the height of swells, as they crash onto shorelines.

Surfs at Fort James during a past swell/surf event

Such high swells and surfs will produce a high threat to life and property in the surf zone. There is the potential for extensive impacts. High surfs will result in beach closures, as swimming conditions will be extremely dangerous for beachgoers. Not entering the waters of affected areas would be a great safety idea and best advice.

The event will likely cause major beach erosion; possibly flooding of low-lying coastal roads; disruptions to marine recreation and businesses; financial losses and damage to coral reefs.

Although relatively small, this swell episode may also cause disruptions to potable water from desalination, as turbulent seas, will increase the turbidity of the water above tolerable levels for the desalting plants.

A high surf warning has been issued by the Met Office for Antigua and much of the rest of the northeast Caribbean. Other offices, as far west as the Bahamas, are expected to issue requisite marine alerts, if they have not done so already.

Precautionary actions: No one should enter the waters of the main warning areas: northern and eastern coastlines. All are also urged to stay away from rocky and or coastal structures along affected coastlines.

The impact on shorelines will not be the same everywhere. Depending on the depth, size, shape and the natural shelter of the coastal waters, the impact will be different. Shallow north-facing shorelines are expected to see the highest swells and surfs.

Seas are to return to safe levels by Monday morning.

Please continue to follow me for more on this event and all things weather and climate via TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Also, share this blog, if you found it useful.





Leslie to Cause a Mini Swellmageddon Across the Caribbean

28 09 2018

Dale C. S. Destin |

Ex-Tropical Storm Leslie is about to cause a mini Swellmageddon across much the Caribbean, after the passage of Kirk. The system is expected to be a major swell-maker, which will become very evident in 24 hours; hence, Swimming conditions at many beaches will become very hazardous.

Fort James Beach During Swellmageddon – Mar 2018

Fort James Beach During Swellmageddon – Mar 2018

Currently, Leslie is not a tropical cyclone. It transitioned into an extratropical cyclone, a few days ago. However, it has not gone any place. The cyclone is forecast to be resurrected. She will strengthen, return to tropical cyclone status in the next 48 hours and eventually become the sixth hurricane for the season.

The hurricane-force winds, to be produced by the cyclone, will never reach us, but they will push, dangerous and damaging sea swells to our shorelines, particularly the Atlantic-facing ones.

Swell height at a NOAA buoy located about 370 NNE of Antigua

Swell Heights at a NOAA Buoy Located About 370 NNE of Antigua

Swells are forecast to steeply climb to 3 metres (10 feet) on Saturday. These large and dangerous battering swells are expected to pummel our shorelines over the upcoming weekend before subsiding to safe levels by mid next week.

Swells Forecast by ECWMF

Swells (colour coded) and Pressure (lines in ATM/Torr) Forecast by the ECMWF WAM 11km Model for Sat Sep 28, 2018

Recall the swell event I dubbed Swellmageddon earlier this year – March 4-7, 2018. It was a swell episode of epic proportion – almost unheard of in the Caribbean. This upcoming swell episode is not expected to be as severe, but it won’t be your garden-variety event either.

The large swells will produce even higher breaking swells or surfs, which could be as much as twice the height of the swells. This means that surfs are expected to range between 3 and 6 metres (10 to 20 feet) this weekend, depending on the bathymetry/topography of the near shore seafloor. This is expected to cause some beach closures, as swimming conditions will become very dangerous for beachgoers, by tomorrow.

This mini Swellmageddon will likely, among other things, also cause:

  • major beach erosion;
  • flooding of some low-lying coastal roads;
  • disruptions to marine recreation and businesses;
  • disruptions to potable water from desalination;
  • damage to coral reefs and
  • Financial losses.

Advisories have already been issued by a few of the region’s national meteorological services. More advisories and or warnings are expected to be issued over the upcoming days. This event will be felt as far west as the Bahamas and as far south as Guyana, Brazil and beyond. The event will also be felt along the East Coast of the United States, Canada and perhaps, as far away as, West Africa.

The impact on shorelines will not be the same everywhere. Depending on the depth and the natural shelter of the coastal waters, the impact will be different. Shallow north-facing shorelines are expected to see the highest swells and surfs. Surfs could rise to as high as 6 metres (20 feet), at some locations.

In open waters, the swells from Mini Swellmageddon will be virtually harmless to small craft operators, as they will be long-period waves with gentle gradients.

There is no chance of any of the destructive winds, from the cyclone at the centre of this significant swell event, reaching the Caribbean. Normal seasonal winds will prevail.

Keep following us for more on this significant swell event and for everything weather and climate. Actual images of the high surfs will be posted on facebook.com/anumetservice and twitter.com/anumetservice.





Another Swell Event to Impact Antigua and the Northern Caribbean

27 03 2018

Dale C. S. Destin |

A powerful low-pressure system is pushing long period swells of moderate heights across the Atlantic that will reach the northern Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda. The swells will start to arrive tonight across the Bahamas, tomorrow morning across Hispaniola and Puerto Rico and Wednesday afternoon across the Leeward Islands, including Antigua and Barbuda.

Fort James Beach During the Last Swell Event - Swellmageddon

Fort James Beach During the Last Swell Event – Swellmageddon – 1st Week of March 2018

This swells even will come no where close to the last one in size and duration. The swell waves will be moderate – 2 to 3 metres across the northeast Caribbean and larger for the islands to the west. However, high surfs will pummel our shorelines with heights of  4.5 metres or 15 feet, getting higher as you go west through the islands.

SwellsMar272018

Such high swells and surfs will produce an elevated threat to life and property in the surf zone. The high surfs that will result in beach closures as swimming conditions will become extremely dangerous for beachgoers.

The event will likely cause major beach erosion; possibly flooding of low-lying coastal roads; disruptions to marine recreation and businesses; financial losses and damage to coral reefs.

Although relatively small, this swell episode may also cause disruptions to potable water from desalination as turbulent seas could increase the turbidity of the water above safe levels for the desalting plants.

A high surf warning has been issued by the Met Office for Antigua and the rest of the northeast Caribbean. Other Offices are expected to issue warnings for as far west as the Bahamas and extending south to the northern Windward Islands. Swells could exceed 5 m (17 ft) across the Bahamas.

The impact on shorelines will not be the same everywhere. Depending on the depth, size, shape and the natural shelter of the coastal waters, the impact will be different. Shallow north-facing shorelines are expected to see the highest swells and surfs; especiall for Barbuda and the more northerly islands.

In open waters, the swells will be virtually harmless to small craft operators as they will be long-period, gentle waves.

Again, this is no “swellmageddon”; however, there will be impacts and associated financial losses.

Keep following us for all things weather and climate.








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