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Monday, August 1, 2011

Will Emily Spare St. Lucia the Worst?

Will Emily spare St. Lucia? I will brave the weather and boldly say that the early signs are it may!

Currently, the system is now located East of Martinique and moving in a North-westerly direction. On this current path, the centre is projected to pass over the Leeward Islands later tonight; and Puerto Rico and Hispaniola later this week.

Assuming that it does not have a “wide radius” - as was the case with Tomas and that it maintains its current path, then its centre should slowly but surely veer away from St Lucia - but that's just an assumption based on my own analysis.


That however does not mean it will not have an impact on us. As I write the sky above Choiseul/Saltibus is saturated with ominously dark cumulo-nimbus clouds reminiscent of the passage of Tomas last year and Allen in 1980. Those must be the outer bands of the system.

My position is Emily - whenever it is called by that name - may not hit Choiseul head-on in the way that Tomas did. I am not saying either that we will be spared the strong winds, heavy rains and swells that accompany the system. If "Emily" were develop further and then to slow down in its forward movement, then it will be more than likely that we will experience strong gale-force winds, torrential rain and severe thunderstorms.

Indeed, it is predicted that “As it interacts with the islands of the Lesser Antilles, it will unleash localized torrential rain, which will lead to areas of flash flooding, mudslides and road washouts.” So we must continue to be on the lookout and take all the necessary precautions.

Things could have been made a lot worse; but thanks to two factors that have "come to our rescue" in slowing down the development of the system. They are Saharan dust and wind shear, even when the system has moved into our warmer waters.  

Saharan dust blowing West over the Atlantic blocks sunlight from reaching the ocean and this causes the ocean surface to cool and therefore reduces potential hurricane activity.

Wind shear - a change in wind speed or direction with height in the atmosphere hurt Emily - by blowing away the heat and moisture it needs as fuel to develop.

Remember, hurricanes are nature’s heat engines “powered by” the release of latent heat when water vapor condenses into liquid water. Wind shear acts to remove the heat and moisture from the area near their centre and distorts the shape of a hurricane by blowing the top away from the lower portion or “shearing it”. To put it crudely, wind shear blows away the flame that will light fire under the hurricane!

Whatever I have written here are based purely on my analysis. We are not out of the clear and indeed, we expect much torrential rain and gusty winds in excess of 40 mph.

Finally and based on the "geometry" of the Emily, I suspect that it may impact the North a lot more forcefully than the South. My Guess  all the way . . . !

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