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USVI and Puerto Rico Brace for Heavy Rains and Rough Seas

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The National Weather Service (NWS) station based in San Juan delivered an urgent update at 11:00 AM AST on Thursday, detailing anticipated severe marine and rainfall conditions for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Weather forecasts spotlight a surge of tropical moisture, propelled by favorable upper-level atmospheric dynamics, set to trigger showers and thunderstorms across the islands starting Friday and extending into early next week. These intensified tropical conditions are raising concerns over potential flooding in both territories, with officials suggesting a flash flood watch might be declared by tomorrow.

Meteorological data points to an approaching surface trough from the east, merging with moisture trails from the now-dissipated Tropical Cyclone Tammy situated well north. Concurrently, an evolving low-pressure system near Colombia’s coast is expected to veer northeastward, channeling substantial moisture over the islands. This meteorological interplay is predicted to bring about heavy downpours commencing late Friday, with the situation worsening over the weekend.

Outlook

In the span from the upcoming Wednesday to Friday, the atmospheric saturation is predicted to remain elevated, enhancing the hazardous weather threat over Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Projected cumulative rainfall could exceed 10-12 inches in southeast and eastern regions of Puerto Rico, while the U.S. Virgin Islands might see over 7 inches of rain by Wednesday.

Potential Risks and Impacts

Intensified Rainfall: Rainfall estimates from the present time until early Tuesday range between 3 to 8 inches. The wet spell may linger from Wednesday to Friday.

Where and When: Daily rainfall is forecasted across most areas, with the southeast, interior, and eastern sectors of Puerto Rico expected to endure the heaviest showers. Intense downpours are likely post-noon on Friday, prolonging through the weekend. Regions could see daily rain accumulations of 2 to 3 inches, predominantly between Saturday night and Sunday.

Implications: The deluge may cause widespread water accumulation, urban flooding, and roadway and stream overflows. There’s a heightened risk of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, particularly in southern to eastern Puerto Rico, with several rivers potentially overflowing.

Marine Unrest: The Atlantic waters off these islands might experience turbulent seas, with waves ranging from 7-10 feet. Wind speeds could escalate to 15 to 20 knots, and gusts may reach up to 30 knots. Small Craft and High Surf Advisories will be in effect for these regions.

Additional Weather-Induced Hazards: Thunderstorms and Wind Gusts: The islands may witness isolated to scattered thunderstorms, featuring frequent lightning and robust wind gusts.
Rip Currents and High Surf: Except for the southern coastal stretches, most areas are facing high rip current risks until Sunday. High surf conditions, with waves breaking at 10 feet or above, are anticipated along some northern coastal belts from Friday through the weekend, with several locales already reporting such wave heights.

 

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

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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

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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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Forecasters Alert to Enhanced Hurricane Activity in the Atlantic for 2024

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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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