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  • Rough waters in Antigua caused by Hurricane Irma.

    Rough waters in Antigua caused by Hurricane Irma. | Photo: Facebook / ABS Television Radio

Published 10 September 2017

"Those factors tilt the odds towards a wetter second half of the wet season, a more intense peak of the hurricane season in September," said CariCOF.

The Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum has released its weather projections for September to November, predicting the region will be as wet as usual in the wider Caribbean, with hotter temperatures that could lead to a more active hurricane season, which is already underway.

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The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. It is the wettest time of the year for the region, and CariCOF is predicting that average rainfall will be "as wet as usual," but this brings with it the potential for floods and flash floods as a direct result of the excess rains. But when no rain is forecast, CariCOF is predicting extremely hot and humid conditions, including the potential heatwave, and warns the region of the potential health risks involved.

This is to be considered in the context of the unprecedented formation of three tropical cyclones, or hurricanes, in the Caribbean at the same time. The hurricanes, Irma, Jose and Katia caused several deaths throughout the region and billions of dollars in damage.

In June, Weather.com reported that the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project's new forecast for the region is expected to receive an above-average number of named storms in 2017. But the events of the last week have already exceeded their prediction of a below-average number of major hurricanes.

Irma was one of three active hurricanes operating in the Caribbean in the last week. It had strengthened to a Category 4 again and is currently battering Florida. But Irma was followed by Hurricane Jose which reached to a Category 4, Hurricane Katia became a Category 1 storm but triggered a deadly landslide in Mexico.

CariCOF's outlook beyond the hurricane season is for more mild temperatures, saying the region can expect higher than normal temperatures, but no heatwaves. This may be because December to February, which includes the typical transition to the dry season in the Caribbean may be wetter than normal.

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The outlook excludes the Bahamas, Belize, Cayman, Cuba and Jamaica, because CariCOF's data suggests that they will experience a drier than normal start to their dry season.

Hurricanes form in wet and hot, or very humid conditions. The warm Caribbean waters were the reason for the strengthening of Hurricane Irma since she remained over the warmer parts of the Caribbean sea. CariCOF has recorded that Caribbean temperatures have warmed significantly. On average the water temperature has increased by 0.5 -1.5°C.

The organization said the sustained temperature anomalies, warming sea temperatures east to the Caribbean and the above average humidity, the pending dry season plus the atmospheric instability will contribute to an increasingly unstable temperature.

"Those factors tilt the odds towards a wetter second half of the wet season, a more intense peak of the hurricane season in September. Warmer air temperatures, and more heatwaves, are expected until the end of October, especially during dry spells," it said.

A concerning prediction considering the region has already been hit so hard by three hurricanes, and there are still two months to go before hurricane season ends.

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