2016 season Finished With Engines

Saturday 26th November 2016

As OTTO disappears into the eastern Pacific and peace returns to the reporting region, there are no further disturbances in the Atlantic and what little circulating air is there, is pathetic and pointless. It would seem that winter defences are now in place. Wind shear is expected to remain high over the majority of the Atlantic basin and seasonal frontal activity has battened down the hatches on the Gulf of Mexico.

I have an old sailor's aversion to turning my back on weather precautions too early, but do recognise that many of the commentators I draw on have already gone into cautious hibernation, and it is with this in mind, I feel reasonably safe ringing down my own final curtain on the 2016 season. This year we had 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 intense hurricanes. My reluctant prediction was for 13, 7 and 3, so was fairly close, but wildly inaccurate with location. I had expected primary activity to be the western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, with secondary activity along the eastern seaboard.

You may remember that hurricane ALEX burst into life in January to the north east of the Bahamas as a tropical low and hit the heights as it approached the Azores as a fish storm. When the season proper kicked off, there was a lot of activity in the subtropical Atlantic, with substantially less along the western leg of the convergence zone. Of course, MATTHEW started life here, turning north as it passed the Netherlands Antilles with inevitable heartbreaking and catastrophic impact in Haiti, then bringing flooding to eastern Florida and into the Carolinas in the first week of October.The Gulf of Mexico dodged a season-long bullet again with just EARL making a brief appearance in August in the Gulf of Campeche and HERMINE which moved east into the Florida panhandle in early September, otherwise there was hardly any other activity in the western Caribbean. OTTO piped up with a very late swansong and some tragic flooding consequences in the far south western Caribbean, taking us almost into December. Aside from that, most activity was well clear of the eastern seaboard out in subtropical Atlantic anonymity.

Many of you will be aware that I draw information from a number of sources, varying from the reliable agencies such as the UK Met Office, a couple of Europeans and of course many US, particularly military, sources. Just for fun, I occasionally treat myself to a peek at some of the catastrophists and storm enthusiasts who can always be relied upon to see a cumulus cloud and predict Armageddon. One such enthusiast, the blind sniper, is based somewhere to the north of the United States and I have a mental image of a deranged hermit with beard a yard long, distilling moonshine from polar bear poo in a snowbound shack and chatting with his house plants. However, credit where credit is due. Deranged or not, he was spot on with MATTHEW - long before anyone even thought this would go to the eastern seaboard.

I have already told my colleagues I won't be doing this next year and have been reminded that I have said this every November for the past seven years. In the meantime, thanks to the many addressees who have sent feedback and comment throughout the season. Always much appreciated. We have been posting these reports on our website www.watkins-marine.com and using the dark art of Twitter@watkinsmarine and will continue to use these to disseminate matters of lesser interest through the winter months. I would like to thank insomniac Carol at our branding, digital and design agency friends Advantage London www.advantagelondon.com who has sat up at all hours of the night waiting to post our bulletins on social media. Thanks too to Laura Jeakins and Dhiran Lal here at Munich Re for their support with the technical stuff and address lists. That's me then. Finished With Engines. Stand down.