Caribbean-bound storm clouds gathering in the east

Monday 26th September 2016

On this day last year, we had just seen the back of IDA and disturbance forty eight was starting to form. At only thirty six disturbances thus far, we are significantly behind 2015 although close to level pegging on named storms. Disturbance forty eight, you may recall, became JOAQUIN which hit the Bahamas hard and was the cause of the EL FARO loss and the tragic death of 33 seafarers.

As for today, the commentator I suspected of hoping that the remnants of KARL would pay me a personal visit is going to be disappointed. The remnants of KARL now seem to be headed well north of my island home. Add to that the dissipation of LISA and we are left with just one disturbance, but one we must watch.

Disturbance thirty six is currently centred around 1,000 miles due east of Barbados on a west-nor'westerly heading at a blistering 21 knots. This ground speed will keep development at bay but only for the next day or so, when it is expected to reduce speed to half ahead and become more organised. Indeed, conditions ahead are almost certain to allow this to develop into a tropical storm by Tuesday, before it moves into the south-eastern Caribbean on Wednesday. Conditions west of the Windward Islands are again favourable for further development and we may have a westbound hurricane in the Caribbean by the end of the week. Track expectancy thereafter is highly speculative. Most modellers have this turning northwest or north and passing over eastern Cuba in about a week but this relies heavily on the effect of a high pressure ridge to the north. All eyes are on this ridge weakening and allowing the system to turn. If it does not (and I wouldn't trust anyone who gives any guarantees on that score this early) then there is a chance that this may enter the Gulf of Mexico in about ten days. I really don't do long term forecasts at this time of the year, but would personally have my hurricane response plan ready if there isn't good news on the high pressure ridge in the next 24-48 hours. Those with an eye on worst case eventualities have given this a peak hurricane severity rating of 25 out of a possible 50 points (14 for size and 11 for intensity) which is not nice at all.

For now at least, stand easy.