‘Fish storms’ no threat to Cayman

Cape Verde hurricane season heats up

Tropical Storm Danielle intensified
in the Atlantic Ocean Monday, but was expected to remain a ‘fish storm’ and
curve into the open ocean, impacting no land masses.

There was a slight chance, however,
that Danielle could still threaten Bermuda and the US Northeast coast, but none
of the computer models gave the storm any possibility of entering the Caribbean
Sea.

As Danielle intensified, the
National Hurricane Center in Miami classified another tropical wave off the
coast of Africa as Invest 96L and gave the weather system a 40 per cent chance
of becoming a tropical cyclone by Wednesday morning. However, early computer
model guidance on that system shows it following roughly the same path as
Danielle, and in fact, curving into the open ocean a bit further west.

Both weather systems are considered
Cape Verde storms. These storms move off that coast of Africa just south of the
Cape Verde islands in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Cayman Islands Chief Meteorologist
John Tibbetts said steering of Cape Verde storms is dictated by the strength of
the Bermuda-Azores High, a permanent high pressure system in the Atlantic Ocean
that he said was responsible for the trade winds. Only when the Bermuda-Azores
High is strong are Cape Verde storms steered westward into the Caribbean.

“The fact that Danielle is forecast
to move northwest means there must be a weakness in the High,” said Mr. Tibbetts.
“The fact that we have light winds in our forecast tells you the high isn’t
very strong in the first place.”

Mr. Tibbetts said the typical Cape
Verde season occurs in August and September. The classic Cape Verde storms
becomes a tropical cyclone soon after emerging off the west coast of Africa and
has a long march westward across the Atlantic. Because they are over water for
a long time, Cape Verde storms are some of the longest lasting hurricanes on
record.

In addition, some of the most
powerful Atlantic Basin hurricanes in history were Cape Verde storms. Hurricane
Gilbert in 1988 and Hurricane Ivan in 2004 were two Cape Verde hurricanes that
reached a Category 5 level and impacted Grand Cayman. Hurricane Hugo in 1989,
Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Isabel in 2003 were all Category 5 Cape
Verde hurricanes that had major impacts on the US Coast.

Mr. Tibbetts noted that even though
Cayman has not had to deal with a hurricane yet this year, the season has a
long way to go.

“The real times you expect a
hurricane are August, September and October, with the peak of the season said
to be September 10th,” he said.

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