Government of Montserrat

Incoming Steep Pressure Gradient Expected

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According to Meterologist /Climatologist for the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Service Climate Section Dale Destin, strong and gusty winds are forecast to move across most of the Caribbean this weekend – Friday through Sunday.
He said these winds will make for hazardous conditions onshore and especially offshore. Some activities on land will become dangerous and marine conditions will be very hazardous for small craft operators.
Destin stated that the high winds and seas may be reminiscent of the passage of a weak tropical storm, but they won’t be due to any such system.
He added that the elevated winds will be the result of a very steep pressure gradient, due to the strength and location of the centre of a high-pressure system. The pressure gradient – the horizontal change of pressure, will be around 25% higher than normal.
The Meteroligist reported that very hazardous seas in excess of 2.5 metres and rising to 3.5 metres (9 to 12 feet) will take place Friday through Sunday across the northeast Caribbean. Winds and seas will start building on Thursday – peaking on Saturday. Seas will occasionally reach 4.5 metres (15 feet).
He said these hazardous conditions will peak about a day earlier across the western Caribbean (including the Bahamas) and a day later across the southern Caribbean.
The winds will range between 34 and 45 km/h (21 and 32 mph) across the northeast Caribbean Friday through Sunday. Gusts to gale-force i.e. 64 km/h (40 mph) are expected. These kinds of winds very unusual for the region outside of being associated with a tropical cyclone (hurricane, tropical storm or tropical depression). The wind will generally blow from the east.
Possible impacts of the strong winds and hazardous seas include:

  • injuries or loss of life
  • damage or loss of boats and fishing equipment
  • disruptions to marine recreation and businesses
  • disruptions to air and especially sea transportation
  • disruptions to outdoor sporting activities
  • disruptions of sea search and rescue
  • scarcity of sea food
  • vehicular accidents and
  • economic losses.

The worst affected area is likely to be the northern Caribbean – including the Leeward Islands and areas further west.
Marine warnings are expected to be issued by most islands. Winds will be strongest over open waters, elevated terrains and windward coastal areas – eastern coastal areas.
Small craft operators and even some not so small crafts operators should stay in or very near port this weekend. Work at high and exposed evaluations should be avoided.
Some outdoor activities may need to be postponed or adjusted for the conditions. Secure or take indoors light and loose objects – patio furniture, trash can etc..
Be very caution if you need to drive a high-profile vehicle, as strong winds could make for difficult, if not dangerous, driving of such automobile.
According to Destin, this event is not related to a tropical cyclone; nonetheless, some measures need to be put in place to mitigate the potential impacts – especially those related to the marine environment.

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