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Aug 23, 2023

Wind Shear Causes Change in Hurricane Development Conditions

At the start of this hurricane season, weather experts had predicted that because the El Nino phenomenon was accompanied by very warm sea surface temperatures that would make the hurricane season almost as active as the La Nina. And while that has been the case and storms have been forming frequently, they haven’t been able to develop into anything major. Chief Meteorologist Ronald Gordon explained that a strong wind shear is what’s working in the Caribbean’s favour. He still warned us to be alert, since the season’s most active months for our region are still before us.


Ronald Gordon

Ronald Gordon, Chief Meteorologist

“Over the past few days, we had several systems developing quite, I would say, rapidly or we had three tropical storms developing. We had Emily, we had Gert, Franklin and Harold. All of them only intensified to tropical storm strength. Currently, only Franklin remains. That system is currently over the Dominican Republic and moving northward. In terms of the seasonal forecast, there was a shift around August in terms of the amount of storms we expected to develop. Initially, they were going for about normal to, I think, even below normal, however, due to the very warm waters in the Atlantic Ocean, that forecast was revised and I think most agencies are now forecasting above normal in terms of the name of storms. However, what we are seeing is that even though the Atlantic is warm, the high level, the strong wind shear caused by El Nino is disrupting these systems and preventing them from becoming very strong hurricanes. And so most of the storms that we saw form over the past few days are quite weak systems and did not last long. What you’re seeing is that the warm waters are there fueling the systems to form. However, they can’t sustain themselves because of the strong wind shear that is tearing them apart. And that’s an El Nino factor. So that is preventing them from becoming very strong hurricanes. So you may have a lot of named storms, but it appears that most of them are quite weak and not long-lasting. Certainly, we know that September and October are the typically active months for us in this part of the region. So that definitely means that we need to be on the alert for the possibility of anything coming our way in those months.”

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