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WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION

___________________________________________

RA IV HURRICANE COMMITTEE


THIRTY-EIGHTH SESSION
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, USA
23 TO 26 APRIL 2016




RA IV/HC-38/Doc.3.2(7)

(5.IV.2016)

________

ITEM: 3.2

Original: ENGLISH

REVIEW OF THE PAST HURRICANE SEASON


Reports of hurricanes, tropical storms, tropical disturbances and

related flooding during 2015
Report from the Bahamas
(Submitted by the Bahamas)

SYNOPSIS
The 2015 Tropical Cyclone Season was forecast to be a below average season and it turned out to be slightly below average with eleven named storms out of which four became hurricanes and two became major hurricanes. Despite being a slightly below average season the Bahamas was hit by hurricane Joaquin, described by many as the worst hurricane in Bahamian history. Additionally, despite the catastrophic damage this storm unleashed in some islands in the central and southeast Bahamas there were no loss of life on land. This was followed by tropical storm Kate which moved very close and parallel to the central and northwest Bahamas without incident. One month before Joaquin, it was necessary for The Bahamas Department of Meteorology to issue Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings for Tropical Storm Erika who impacted the Leeward Islands but dissipated before reaching The Bahamas.
Tropical storm Erika

24TH to 28TH August, 2015


Tropical Storm Erika formed in the Mid-Atlantic at about 1800 UTC on August 24th, approximately 900 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. During the next five days, the storm moved eastward across the Leeward Islands and dissipated at about 1330 UTC on August 29th, 2015.
The forecasted track for Erika indicated that the cyclone would northward through The Bahamas from Friday August 28th through Sunday August 30th as a Tropical Storm, gradually increasing in strength and becoming a Hurricane on Sunday morning. As a result of this forecast, a total of twenty-two alert messages were issued inclusive of the all clear.
Hurricane Joaquin

1st to 3rd October, 2015


Introduction 
Hurricane Joaquin moved into the Central Bahamas during the morning of Thursday October 1st, 2015. The center of the dangerous hurricane trekked across Samana Cay, moved just north of Crooked Island then made a u-turn which took it just to the east of Long Island and over Rum Cay and San Salvador before exiting the Bahamas early Saturday morning.
Hurricane Joaquin was the 10th named storm of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season and only the third to reach hurricane strength. Its movement across the Central and Southeast Bahamas was painfully slow. Joaquin lingered just north of Crooked Island, as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, torturing several islands of the Central and Southeast Bahamas for just over two days before finally departing. Joaquin caused extensive damage and destruction to Long Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay. Damage was mainly due to powerful storm surges, and sustained winds of up to 130 mph.

The Warning System
For Hurricane Joaquin the Bahamas Department of Meteorology issued a total of twenty seven (27) Alert messages. The Watches and Warning included in the Alert messages were as follows:

  • Four (4) Tropical Storm Warnings issued for the Southeast Bahamas.

  • Eighteen (18) Hurricane Warnings issued for the Northwest Bahamas.

  • Twenty Four (24) Hurricane Warnings issued for the Central Bahamas.

  • Sixteen (16) Hurricane Warnings issued for the Southeast Bahamas.


Winds
Hurricane Joaquin intensified rapidly while just north of Crooked Island and became a very dangerous and destructive category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph while in The Bahamas.
NHC reports and the HURRIVAC Model indicated San Salvador, Rum Cay, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Island, and Southern Cat Island were affected by hurricane force wind, while Inagua, Mayaguana, Northern Cat Island, Exuma, Eleuthera and the Turks and Caicos Islands were affected by tropical storm force winds. Damages observed on these islands after the passage of Joaquin, along with eye witness reports from residents of the islands, suggest that those conditions actually occurred.

Actual wind measurements from Joaquin while in The Bahamas were done by the Automatic Weather Observing Station (AWOS) in Cockburn Town, San Salvador.



Rainfall
Rainfall accumulations are estimated to be around 5 to 10 inches in some parts of the Central and Southeast Islands.
Storm Surge
Storm Surges of 12 to 15 feet were measured in Rum cay, Crooked Island and Acklins. Staff form The Bahamas Department of Meteorology was able to visit Rum Cay, San Salvador, Crooked Island and Acklins in the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin. Water marks left in the wake of Joaquin indicated that storm surge of up to 20 feet was experienced in some areas. Most of the damages that occurred in coastal communities were due to storm surges.
Deaths and Injures
There were no reported injuries or fatalities of any citizens, residents, or visitors to the Bahamas due to the passage of Hurricane Joaquin. However, a cargo ship (the El Fargo) while traversing the Bahamas en route from Jacksonville, Florida to Puerto Rico experienced engine trouble and was foundered and sunk by fierce winds and rough seas generated by the hurricane. All 33 souls on board the ship perished.
Damages
The very slow movement and extremely strong winds and storm surge of the hurricane resulted in catastrophic damages in Long Island, Acklins, Crooked Island, San Salvador and Rum Cay. Numerous buildings on islands that experienced the wrath of hurricane force winds, dangerous storm surges, and torrential rainfall were either completely destroyed or very badly damaged. Hundreds of persons had to be evacuated from some areas because of the devastation of homes, businesses, and infrastructure.

According to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency the impacted islands also had persistent and extreme flooding for days after the hurricane, and all of the water was contaminated.


ECLAC and IDB Damage Assessment Report
Soon after its passage, a team from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Inter-American Bank (IDB) did an assessment of the effects and impacts caused by Hurricane Joaquin in The Bahamas. In their draft report, the estimated total damage, losses and costs associated with Hurricane Joaquin is $120,637,340.
Tropical Storm Kate

8TH to 10TH November, 2015


Introduction
Kate was a late season tropical cyclone which formed in the month of November. Kate became a tropical depression, near the Southeast Bahamas, during the night-time on 8th November making it the 12th depression of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Formation and track
At 10pm EST on 8th November, 2015 tropical depression # 12 formed about 46 miles north of the island of Mayguana. The depression moved west-northwest at about 14 miles per hour and developed into Tropical Storm Kate within 10 hours. Kate continued moving rapidly and parallel to the eastern islands of The Bahamas before assuming a north and northeast which took it away from The Bahamas within 24 hours of it development into a Tropical Depression. After moving away from The Bahamas, Kate became the season's fourth hurricane on 11th November.
The warning system
A total of eight alerts messages were issued inclusive of the all clear.
Damage and casualty
Strong gusty winds and some heavy rainfall affected parts of Cat Island and Eleuthera; however, no damage, injuries or casualties were reported.



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