The Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services has issued warnings for sea-bathers and, more so, small craft operators. These warnings are in effect from 8 am Saturday to 8 pm Wednesday.
Gale force winds are also expected from Sunday morning to Monday morning, mainly over open water, coastal areas on the eastern side of the islands and elevated areas.
The winds will become fresh to strong – they will generally be in excess of 18 mph (16 knots) from late Saturday night to Monday afternoon.The winds will peak as high as 30 mph (26knots)with frequent gusts between 38 and 46 mph (33 and 40knots)Sunday morning to Monday morning.
The seaswill respond to the winds – they will become very rough rising to as high as 3.9 metres (13 feet) on Sunday night. Waves will rise above six feet by Saturday morning and remain above this height through Wednesday. Waves of 2.7 to 3.9 metres (9 to 13 feet) will prevail from Saturdaynight to Wednesday.
The cause of the strong winds will be due to the expected significant tightening of the pressure gradient (north-south differential of pressure) across the area over the next 24 hours. The relatively tight pressure gradient will be in response to a very strong high pressure system moving from west to east across the Atlantic from the United States. This is will NOT be due to any tropical cyclone (tropical depression, tropical storm or hurricane).
Precautions – small craft operators should not venture far from port, at least, until Thursday. Sea-bathers should avoid the waters, especially those on the Atlantic or eastern side of the islands.
A small craft warning means that wind speeds in excess of 18 mph (16 knots)is causing or expected to cause hazardous sea conditions to small craft within 24 hours. Inexperience mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels should avoid navigating these conditions.
Gale force winds run from 39 to 54 mph (34 to 47 knot). Operating a vessel in gale conditions requires experience and properly equipped vessels. It is highly recommended that mariners without the proper experience seek safe harbour prior to the onset of gale conditions.
The strong winds, especially if frequently gusting to gale force, could also make some outdoor activities very uncomfortable if not hazardous, please be guided accordingly.
Please continue to monitor the bulletins and forecasts issued by the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services.
Forecaster: Dale Destin