What weather can I expect cruising the Caribbean during December?

Pilot Chart of the North Atlantic (Caribbean section) for December

Pilot Chart of the North Atlantic (Caribbean section) for December

Over the Caribbean during December winds tend to be mostly from the east or northeast averaging forces 4-5 (11-21 knots).  Over the Gulf of Mexico winds tend to be more variable but still averaging mostly forces 4-5 (11-21 knots).  The risk for gale force or higher winds is low, generally 1 % or less, except for the westernmost Gulf of Mexico where the gale risk is 2-3%.

Strong to near gale conditions, often do occur so the risk of encountering rough 8 foot or higher seas is about 10% over the Gulf of Mexico and ranges from 10 to 30 percent over the central and western Caribbean with the highest risk concentrated north of the Columbian coast.  The eastern Caribbean tends to have less risk for rough seas, occurring less than 10% of the time and winds averaging force 4 (11-16 knots).

Air temperatures during December average 27C-28C (80-83 F) across the Caribbean, 16C-22C (61-72 F) over the northern and western Gulf of Mexico and 22-25C (72-77 F) across the Bay of Campeche and southern Gulf of Mexico.  Sea surface temperatures range from 26-28C (79-82 F) in the Caribbean, 18-24C (64-75 F) over the northern and western Gulf of Mexico and 24-27C (75-81 F) in the Bay of Campeche and southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

Pilot Chart for the North Atlantic (Caribbean Section) depicting air and sea temperatures

Pilot Chart for the North Atlantic (Caribbean Section) depicting average air pressure and temperatures

 

 

 

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Dangerous West Pacific Storm Developing

 

NOAA OPC Surface Analysis

NOAA OPC Surface Analysis

Post-Tropical Hurricane Force Storm Lan will move rapidly northeast and transfer its energy to a developing storm low that will move towards the southwestern Bering Sea and western Aleutian islands.

 

 

 

This developing storm will deepen very rapidly to a dangerous 938 MB hurricane force storm creating winds of 55 to 75 knots and seas building 36-56 feet (11-17 meters) within 360 NM SE and 420 NM SW of the center within 24-36 hours.  This system will create a dangerous situation for ship traffic steaming along northern routes.

Learn more about the winter hurricanes

NOAA OPC Wave Height Forecast

NOAA OPC Wave Height Forecast

NOAA OPC Forecast 0000UTC 25 October 2017

NOAA OPC Forecast 0000UTC 25 October 2017

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Intense Hurricane Force North Atlantic Storm

NOAA OPC Surface Analysis

NOAA OPC Surface Analysis

An intense 947mb hurricane force storm low over North Atlantic well east of Newfoundland is moving northeast at 15 knots.  Currently winds of 65-85 knots extend outward 120 NM south of the center with seas to 40 feet (about 12 meters). Also, within 180 NM northwest of the center winds are 50-65 knots with seas to 32 feet (about 10 meters).

NOAA NWS ASCAT 25KM Winds

NOAA NWS ASCAT 25KM Winds

North Atlantic sat 1

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Super Typhoon Lan approaching Japan

Super Typhoon Lan satellite image

Super Typhoon Lan satellite image

Super Typhoon Lan at 1200 UTC 21 October was center about 307 NM east-southeast of Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa, Japan and was moving N-NE at 16 knots with max winds up to 130 knots.  Lan has a large 45 NM wide eye and hurricane force winds currently extend outward up to 95 NM while 50 knot or higher winds extend outward up to 180 NM.

Wind Field Super Typhoon Lan

Wind Field Super Typhoon Lan

Although sea surface temperatures are high, Lan is moving into an area with substantially lower total heat content and increasing wind shear so max winds are expected to weaken to  100 knots, possibly less as it approaches the east coast of Honshu 22nd 1800-2100 UTC.

JTWC track forecast for Super Typhoon Lan

JTWC track forecast for Super Typhoon Lan

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Super Typhoon possible over western Pacific

Tropical Storm Lan satellite image from JTWC Satellite Ops

Tropical Storm Lan satellite image from JTWC Satellite Ops

Tropical Storm Lan over the western North Pacific about 186 NM northwest of Kyangel was moving slowly towards the northeast with max winds of 55 knots.  Wind shear is low, ocean temperatures are very warm at 30 C to 31 C so intensification is very likely as Lan is forecast to turn more towards the north or north-northwest reaching typhoon strength during the next 12 hours and likely super-typhoon strength within 72 hours.

JTWC Forecast Track

JTWC Forecast Track

 

See latest Forecast Graphic

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Hurricane Nate Saturday Update

NOAA Visible Satellite image Hurricane Nate

NOAA Visible Satellite image Hurricane Nate

Hurricane Nate continues to intensify over the warm Gulf of Mexico as it moves rapidly toward the north-northwest at 23 knots (26 mph). Currently max winds are 80 knots (90 mph)but conditions appear favorable for Nate to continue strengthening for the next 12 hours prior to landfall.

Presently, hurricane force winds extend outward only about 30 NM on the east side of Nate with 50 knot (58 mph) or higher winds extending outward 50-60 NM but only on the east side of the storm. Maximum significant wave height is 28 feet (8.5 meters).

NOAA NHC Forecast Track Hurricane Nate

NOAA NHC Forecast Track Hurricane Nate

Nate is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge flooding near and well east of where the center makes landfall, and a storm surge warning is in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Okaloosa/Walton county line in Florida. Maximum flooding of 7 to 11 feet above ground level is expected in portions of southeastern Louisiana and along the Mississippi coast. Residents in these areas
should immediately heed any evacuation instructions given by local
officials.

NOAA NHC forecast risk for 50 knot (58 mph) or higher winds

NOAA NHC forecast risk for 50 knot (58 mph) or higher winds

Nate is forecast to reach Category 2 intensity before landfall.
A hurricane warning is in effect for portions of the northern Gulf
Coast from Louisiana to Alabama, with the strongest winds expected
to occur primarily to the east of the center. Preparations to
protect life and property should be rushed to completion in these
areas, as tropical storm conditions will first arrive in the warning
area this afternoon.

Nate’s fast forward speed after landfall will bring tropical-
storm-force winds well inland across portions of the southeastern
U.S. Tropical storm watches and warnings are in effect for portions
of southeastern Mississippi, Alabama, and western Georgia.

Nate will bring heavy rainfall of 3 to 6 inches with isolated
totals of 10 inches east of the Mississippi River from the central
Gulf Coast into the Deep South, eastern Tennessee Valley, and
southern Appalachians through Monday, resulting in the potential for
flash flooding in these areas.

NOAA close up track forecast

NOAA close up track forecast

Radar Loop:

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Tropical Storm Nate Upate

NOAA Visible Satellite Image TS Nate

NOAA Visible Satellite Image TS Nate

Tropical Storm Nate is poorly organized with max winds of about 45 knots (50 mph) located 50 nm from the center and was moving just west of north at 18 knots.

Nate is expected to move quickly north-northwestward for the next 36 hours then turn more towards the north, then northeast. The center of Nate should pass near or over the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula later today or this evening followed by landfall on the northern Gulf Coast in about 36-48 hours.

NHC Forecast Track for TS Nate

NHC Forecast Track for TS Nate

Conditions appear favorable for strengthening and Nate is expected to make landfall there as a hurricane, however, the fast motion of Nate should limit development somewhat. Life-threatening storm surge flooding is likely along portions of the northern Gulf Coast, and a storm surge warning has been issued from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Alabama/Florida border. Current forecasts suggest landfall between Buras,LA and Mobile, AL.

Risk for encountering 50kt (58mph) or higher wind

Risk for encountering 50kt (58mph) or higher wind

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What is the weather like cruising the Caribbean in October?

Pub. 106 Atlas of Pilot Charts North Atlantic Ocean (including Gulf of Mexico), 2002 Ed.

Pub. 106
Atlas of Pilot Charts North Atlantic Ocean (including Gulf of Mexico), 2002 Ed.

October is an excellent month to cruise the Caribbean Sea.  Generally, winds are light to moderate coming primarily from the east and averaging 7-16 knots with the risk for encountering gale force or higher winds are 1 percent or less.  Gales, when they do occur, are associated with hurricanes which can and do occur this month, mostly over the western Caribbean, eastern Gulf of Mexico and the waters east of Florida and near the Bahamas.  Overall, the risk for encountering rough seas (over 12 feet) is generally 10 % or less.

During the month of October, the most active area for tropical cyclones is the northwestern Caribbean Sea, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the waters east of Florida to the Bahamas. In these areas there is a risk of 30-40% of having a tropical cyclone pass over at least once during the month.  Over the eastern Caribbean Sea the risk is 15% or less.

Air temperatures remain warm, averaging 27-28 C  (80-83 F) while sea temperatures average 28-29 C (82-84 F).

Pilot Chart October for Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea

Pilot Chart October for Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea

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Hurricane Maria update: 1100 AM EDT (1500 UTC) Sun Sep 24 2017

NOAA Satellite image Hurricane Maria

NOAA Satellite image Hurricane Maria

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has reduced the max winds of Maria to 90 knots (105 mph) which is a Cat 2 storm, based on the latest information from the NOAA and Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft. The minimum pressure in Maria, however, was 947 mb which suggests that Maria still has the potential for stronger Cat 3 winds, especially while it remains over very warm  sea surface temperatures (SST).

NOAA Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomaly

NOAA Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomaly

Hurricane force winds currently extend outward 50 NM to the northeast and 35 NM to the southwest.  Damaging 50 knot (58 mph) or higher winds extend outward 100 NM to the northeast and 60 NM to the southwest.  Maximum significant wave height is estimated at 42 feet (12.8 meters).

Current movement is north-northwest at about 8 knots (9 mph) and this track should continue for another 48-72 hours. After 72 hours, Maria should turn sharply towards the east-northeast.

NOAA NHC Forecast Risk for Tropical Storm force winds.

NOAA NHC Forecast Risk for Tropical Storm force winds.

 

The SST temperatures also suggest that Maria may still track somewhat farther to the west than the official NHC track, but the turn towards the east-northeast is very likely, due to increasing upper winds from the west and prevailing colder SST off the Middle Atlantic Coast.

Since Maria is a large hurricane, the associated tropical-storm-force winds could reach a portion of the North Carolina coast by mid-week regardless of the exact track.

NOAA Hurricane Maria Forecast Track

NOAA Hurricane Maria Forecast Track

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Hurricane Maria Update

Hurricane Maria at 1100 AM AST (1500 UTC) Thu Sep 21 2017

NOAA Visible Satellite image for Hurricane Maria

NOAA Visible Satellite image for Hurricane Maria

Maria has a large 40 nm wide eye and max winds of about 100 knots (115mph). Hurricane force winds extent outward 40-50 NM while 50 knot (58mph) or higher winds extend out 60-80 NM and gales outward 110-130 NM.

Maria is moving over the remnant cold wake leftover from Hurricane Irma, but it should begin to move over warmer SST soon so some strengthening is still forecast. After about 48 hours, increasing wind shear will start to gradually weaken the system.  Max wave heights estimated to be 48 feet (14.6 meters).

Currently Maria is moving towards the northwest (310 degrees) at 8 kt (9mph), however, Maria is expected to turn gradually northward in 3-5 days. Current thinking keeps Maria well off the US East Coast,however, there is still uncertainty in the final track so folks from the Carolinas to southern New England need to follow the updates on Maria.

Catastrophic flooding is occurring on the island, especially in areas of mountainous terrain. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the southeastern Bahamas, where Maria is expected to bring dangerous wind, storm surge, and heavy rainfall.

NHC Forecast track for Hurricane Maria

NHC Forecast track for Hurricane Maria

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