Cold front brings rough weather

Hurricane season might be over, but nor’wester season has really just begun, as evidenced by the cold front that has descended on the northwest Caribbean.

As a result, through Wednesday the Cayman Islands can expect windy conditions, rough seas and rain.

Cayman Islands National Weather Service forecaster Allan Ebanks said this cold front isn’t really a classic nor’wester.

‘It’s more of a northerly type cold front,’ he said. ‘It will have winds from the northwest for a while, but it won’t stick around. It will swing to the north and then the northeast.’

The northwest element of the cold front was expected on Monday night, with winds of 15 to 20 knots and higher gusts.

The winds are expected to shift to the north on Tuesday and then to the northeast on Wednesday. The wind speeds, however, are expected to persist at 15 to 20 knots with higher gusts through Wednesday evening.

Wave heights are expected to increase from 5 to 7 feet on Monday night to 6 to 9 feet Tuesday and Wednesday. A small craft advisory will remain in effect through Thursday.

Although no cruise ships were expected in port on Monday, three are expected on Tuesday and six on Wednesday.

Mr. Ebanks said the south side of Grand Cayman should remain calm, meaning cruise ships could moor off Spotts dock.

The cold front will also bring one to two inches of rain through Wednesday morning, Mr. Ebanks said.

December is typically a dry month. Last year, only 2.45 inches of rain fell in the whole month of December.

Rainfall in general has been up this fall. In October, there was 15.44 inches of rain, the second most in October over the past decade. Only the 16.17 inches in October 2005 was more during that 10-year span.

Another 14.38 inches of rain fell in November this year, the most since 19.83 inches fell in November 1999.

The 29.82 inches of rain that fell between 1 October and 30 November this year is more than the combined totals for those two months for any year since 1999 when 34.75 inches fell in the same timeframe. Last year, only 15 inches of rain fell over the same two months.

Last year, a study published by NASA researchers predicted a long-term increase in rain in the tropics due to global warming because higher surface temperatures increase evaporation from the oceans. In addition, warmer air can hold more moisture, increasing precipitation.