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Hazardous Swell Impacts USVI and Puerto Rico: A Marine Weather Alert

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The National Weather Service in Puerto Rico has issued an alert regarding a northeasterly swell, creating hazardous marine and coastal conditions. This weather pattern is significantly impacting the Atlantic waters, local passages, and notably the north and east-facing shores of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

These conditions, presenting considerable risks to marine and coastal regions, are expected to intensify and continue into the upcoming weekend.

Marine Conditions Update

Forecasts indicate escalating sea conditions, with waves expected to reach heights of 6 to 10 feet and occasional surges peaking at 13 feet. The zenith of this event is projected for Thursday, with the hazardous conditions likely extending through the weekend. In response, Small Craft Advisories have been issued for the Atlantic waters and local passages.

Surf Zone and Beach Safety

Beachgoers are warned of potentially deadly swimming and rip current risks. Anticipated large breaking waves, between 6 and 13 feet, with occasional higher breakers, underscore these dangers. Consequently, a High Rip Current Risk statement is in effect for the north and east-facing beaches of Puerto Rico and USVI, at least until the end of this workweek.

A High Surf Advisory is also active from this evening through Friday for the northern coast of Puerto Rico and St. Croix, indicating heightened risk.

Furthermore, minor beach erosion is a likely outcome of this northeasterly swell. Authorities urge residents and visitors in these regions to remain vigilant and stay abreast of the latest weather developments, ensuring safety during these challenging conditions.

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Weather

NOAA Predicts Active 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has projected a notably active Atlantic hurricane season for 2024, with an 85% likelihood of above-normal activity. According to the Climate Prediction Center, the forecast anticipates 17 to 25 named storms, of which 8 to 13 may develop into hurricanes, including 4 to 7 reaching major hurricane strength. This prediction reflects a 70% confidence level from NOAA’s forecasters, who attribute the increased activity to near-record warm ocean temperatures, the onset of La Nina conditions, and reduced wind shear.

The official hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. As a strong El Nino period concludes, NOAA scientists anticipate a swift transition to La Nina, which is conducive to hurricane formation due to lower wind shear in the Atlantic. Additionally, an above-normal West African monsoon season could contribute to stronger and longer-lasting Atlantic storms.

Rising ocean temperatures and melting ice, leading to higher sea levels, exacerbate the potential impact of hurricanes by increasing storm surge risks. In response to the escalating threat, NOAA is enhancing its communication and forecasting capabilities. Planned improvements include expanded advisories in Spanish, a new experimental forecast cone graphic to depict inland storm threats, and the integration of new models to better predict storm intensification.

Technological advancements such as Saildrones and underwater gliders will be deployed to improve storm tracking and intensity predictions. These enhancements are supported by upgrades to NOAA’s observational infrastructure, providing detailed and real-time data essential for accurate forecasting.

NOAA emphasizes the importance of public preparedness, urging residents in hurricane-prone areas to stay informed through reliable sources like hurricanes.gov and social media platforms. FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik A. Hooks also stresses the need for immediate readiness, highlighting the unpredictable nature of severe weather and its widespread impacts.

NOAA’s seasonal outlook forms part of a broader strategy to boost public awareness and preparedness ahead of potential hurricane landfalls. The Climate Prediction Center plans to provide an updated outlook in early August, incorporating the latest data and predictive models to refine forecasts as the peak hurricane season approaches.

In summary, with an anticipated increase in hurricane activity for the 2024 Atlantic season, NOAA and FEMA underscore the vital importance of preparation and advanced forecasting to mitigate impacts and enhance public safety.

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Elevated Health Risks Prompt Advisory Against Using Coastal Waters During Storms

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With forecasts predicting heavy rainfall and potential flooding, the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) has issued an advisory for the public to avoid using coastal waters across the territory until further notice.

Parents are specifically urged to keep children away from beaches affected by storm water and from areas with manholes or flooding. The advisory highlights the elevated health risks due to increased concentrations of bacteria in storm water runoff, which can include puddles, ghuts, and drainage basins that may also carry harmful contaminants and pollutants.

DPNR has committed to ongoing monitoring of the affected areas and waters to ensure public safety.

Contractors, developers, and home builders are reminded to implement and maintain enhanced erosion and sediment control measures at disturbed properties. The recommended practices include:

  • Preservation of natural vegetation
  • Drainage swales and diversions
  • Temporary and permanent seeding
  • Soil sealers and binders
  • Erosion control mats
  • Soil retaining walls
  • Proper construction entrances and exits
  • Silt fencing
  • Sediment traps
  • Mulches, mats, and geotextiles

Additionally, all construction materials and equipment should be secured or removed to prevent them from becoming airborne hazards during storms.

For reporting areas of concern, contact the Division of Environmental Protection Earth Change Program at (340) 774-3320 or (340) 773-1082.

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Weather Service Issues Flood Warnings for USVI and Puerto Rico

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The National Weather Service in San Juan has issued an alert for heavy rain and potential flooding affecting Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, starting Wednesday.

Forecasts indicate that a combination of an upper-level trough and a developing surface low-pressure system will bring substantial moisture to the region, increasing the likelihood of flooding as the week progresses.

The anticipated weather pattern includes multiple rain episodes, beginning with showers arriving from the Caribbean Sea into the Virgin Islands and spreading across southern and eastern Puerto Rico on Wednesday. A second wave of rain is expected on Thursday, with lingering effects potentially extending into Friday.

Meteorologists warn that sustained periods of moderate to heavy rainfall could elevate the risks of river overflows, flash floods, and mudslides. Residents and visitors, particularly those in flood-prone areas, are advised to stay informed with weather updates and prepare for swiftly changing conditions.

This moisture-laden system is predicted to persist through at least late Saturday, maintaining the heightened risk of flooding throughout the period.

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