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Forecasters Alert to Enhanced Hurricane Activity in the Atlantic for 2024



Scenes of devastation in St. Thomas with trees battered and seas tempestuous, captured during Hurricane Irma’s onslaught on September 6, 2017. Courtesy of V.I. CONSORTIUM

The AccuWeather team, renowned for their expertise in hurricane forecasting, has sounded an alarm about the potential for a highly active hurricane season in the Atlantic in 2024. Jonathan Porter, the Chief Meteorologist, has voiced significant concerns regarding a season that could be amplified by a confluence of climatic conditions.

With the season commencing on June 1, there’s an anticipation of heightened activity attributed to the emergence of La Niña and the unusually high temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean. “As we transition from the current El Niño pattern to a La Niña pattern in the latter half of the season, we’re likely to see reduced wind shear, which is conducive to the formation of more tropical storms and hurricanes,” explained Porter.

Reflecting on past seasons, there’s a notable link between La Niña years and spikes in hurricane activity, with the 2005 and 2020 seasons standing out for their record-breaking 31 tropical systems. AccuWeather’s Long-Range Expert, Paul Pastelok, suggests that the latter part of 2024 might see a replication of these high-activity seasons, should La Niña materialize as anticipated.

Porter also emphasized the role of the Atlantic’s warm temperatures, noting that as of mid-February, the ocean’s warmth paralleled mid-July levels, a condition that could exacerbate as the year unfolds. “The exceptionally warm waters mean that any forming storms could intensify rapidly, even when approaching land,” he cautioned.

This year’s pronounced warmth in the Atlantic’s Main Development Region (MDR) sets a concerning precedent for the season’s potential severity. February’s ocean temperature anomalies revealed a 65% increase compared to the previous record, highlighting the likelihood of an unusually active season.

Areas along the Gulf Coast, particularly near Texas, are identified as particularly vulnerable to tropical systems this year. With Pastelok’s insights, there’s a call for increased vigilance for those residing along the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Seaboard, especially considering the recent trend of early-season tropical system formations.

AccuWeather is set to publish its detailed forecast for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season in March, aiming to provide both business clients and the general populace with precise information. The community is urged to pay attention to these preliminary alerts and to prepare for what could be an unparalleled hurricane season.

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Alert Issued for Coastal Hazards in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands



The National Weather Service has sounded the alarm for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, warning of coastal and marine dangers set to impact the areas from April 9 to April 13. The advisories underscore the risks of tumultuous seas and vigorous winds that could challenge the safety of those on small vessels and individuals planning to visit the beaches.

During the interval from Tuesday to Friday, the seas are anticipated to swell to heights of 8 feet, with the force of the waves reaching similar peaks. Winds are expected to surge, blowing steadily at speeds of 15 to 20 knots and gusting up to 30 knots. A marginal easing is predicted by Saturday, with sea levels possibly reducing to 7 feet and wave heights to 5 feet, while winds could maintain their intensity but with gusts slightly decreasing to 25 knots.

The current maritime forecast has initiated advisories for hazardous seas for small crafts, which could extend over the week, alongside a pronounced warning of high-risk rip currents. These currents are deemed perilous, capable of overpowering even adept swimmers and making it difficult for them to safely return to shore.

The tumultuous conditions are a result of northerly swells paired with moderate to locally intense trade winds. The anticipated hazardous seas are set to affect the offshore Atlantic waters by Tuesday evening, progressively reaching the northern coastal waters of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, encompassing the Mona and Anegada Passages, by Wednesday. Although advisories for small crafts are in effect until late Thursday night, the expectation is for these challenging conditions to linger into the weekend.

The onset of life-threatening rip currents is also forecasted, starting from northern Puerto Rico by Tuesday evening and expanding to western Puerto Rico, Culebra, and the northern reaches of the USVI by Wednesday. The high risk associated with these rip currents is projected to last until late Thursday night, with a continuation of the hazardous conditions likely through the weekend. Wednesday could also see heightened surf conditions.

The National Weather Service cautions against the potential repercussions, which span hazardous seas for small crafts, rip currents with the power to drag swimmers into deeper waters, perilous surf and swimming conditions, and the risk of localized coastal flooding and beach erosion. It’s crucial for both residents and visitors to heed these warnings, remain vigilant, and stay updated on weather developments throughout this period.

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Warnings Issued for Coastal and Marine Hazards Affecting Puerto Rico and Northern USVI



The National Weather Service has sounded the alarm on impending coastal and marine hazards targeting the offshore and coastal zones of northwestern Puerto Rico, the Mona and Anegada Passages, and reaching up to the northern territories of the US Virgin Islands.

With advisories effective through Tuesday morning, authorities warn of perilous seas for small crafts and caution against treacherous swimming conditions due to towering surf in these locales.

Commencing on April 1, Monday, maritime forecasts predict sea levels ranging between 6-8 feet with surf breaking at formidable heights of 7-11 feet. Although the sea’s fury is expected to diminish as the week unfolds, the initial onslaught poses significant dangers to smaller vessels. Mariners navigating the waters of Puerto Rico and the USVI are urged to proceed with caution, particularly during the afternoon when marine conditions are forecasted to peak in severity.

Wind predictions for the week ahead suggest velocities of 15 to 20 knots, with gusts surging to 25 knots on Monday. While a gradual reduction in wind strength is anticipated, the persistence of notable gusts will continue to stir the seas, justifying the advisories issued for these areas.

A critical point of concern is the elevated risk of life-threatening rip currents along Puerto Rico’s northern shore, stretching from Rincon to Ceiba, and extending through Culebra to the northern USVI. This peril is slated to persist into the midweek, with rip currents capable of dragging even the most adept swimmers out to sea, complicating efforts to return safely to shore. Although the threat level is expected to moderate by Thursday, April 4, conditions conducive to potentially fatal rip currents remain a possibility.

The genesis of these treacherous conditions can be traced back to northerly swells coupled with moderate to brisk trade winds. Despite the anticipated waning of the current northerly swell, the arrival of another long-period swell from the north by midweek could prolong the hazardous circumstances. The resultant effects include perilous seas for small crafts, along with dangerous conditions for surfing and swimming, not to mention the potential for localized coastal flooding and beach erosion affecting both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Authorities are imploring residents and visitors in the impacted regions of both Puerto Rico and the USVI to heed advisories and exercise utmost caution near water bodies.

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Rainfall and Flood Alerts Impact St. Croix Activities, Continuing Through Thursday



On Wednesday, St. Croix experienced significant interruptions to its daily activities due to persistent rainfall, leading to the unusual quiet of rain-soaked streets replacing the usual hustle and bustle of school and work life.

The Department of Education took proactive measures by announcing the closure of schools throughout the territory early in the morning, following notifications to parents the previous evening about the potential disruption. They also advised students who commute between the islands of St. Thomas and St. John to avoid the ferry journey.

Legal proceedings on St. Croix faced adjustments as well, with the judiciary declaring an early closure for the Superior Court starting at noon, and subsequently, all court facilities on the island were shut down by 2:30 pm due to the relentless rainfall. Non-essential government employees were directed to head home at 2:00 pm, prioritizing safety amidst worsening conditions.

Social media platforms featured videos of cars navigating waterlogged roads, highlighting the challenges posed by overflowing gutters and gullies unable to cope with the heavy downpour.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in San Juan projected that the weather conditions causing the deluge on Wednesday would extend into Thursday. The NWS issued warnings for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, cautioning of “heavy showers and thunderstorms” that may persist. The aftermath of the weather system is expected to introduce “winds and pulses of a long-period northerly swell” affecting the region through the weekend, according to the NWS.

Mariangelis Marrero-Colón, an NWS PR Meteorologist, emphasized the ongoing risk of substantial rainfall across the islands until early Thursday. “The areas poised for the greatest impact include the southern, interior, and eastern regions of Puerto Rico, along with the entirety of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” she noted, pointing out concerns over urban and flash flooding, river surges, mudslides, and the possibility of strong winds accompanying severe showers and thunderstorms.

Rainfall estimates suggest accumulations could reach up to 3 inches across the affected areas, with a higher potential in specific locales. This situation has prompted the NWS to maintain a moderate flood risk advisory. Additionally, boating conditions are expected to be hazardous, with a small craft advisory in effect through the weekend and possibly extending into the following week.

Beachgoers are cautioned against dangerous swimming conditions, especially at beaches facing north, where life-threatening rip currents are expected to be a significant risk at least until Sunday.

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