According to Destin, these swells will come nowhere close to the last one in size and duration. The swell waves will be moderate – 2 to 3 metres across the northeast Caribbean and larger for the islands to the west. However, high surfs will pummel our shorelines with heights of 4.5 metres or 15 feet, getting higher as you go west through the islands.
Such high swells and surfs will produce an elevated threat to life and property in the surf zone. The high surfs that will result in beach closures as swimming conditions will become extremely dangerous for beachgoers.
The event will likely cause major beach erosion; possibly flooding of low-lying coastal roads; disruptions to marine recreation and businesses; financial losses and damage to coral reefs.
Although relatively small, this swell episode may also cause disruptions to potable water from desalination as turbulent seas could increase the turbidity of the water above safe levels for the desalting plants.
A high surf warning has been issued by the Met Office for Antigua and the rest of the northeast Caribbean. Other Offices are expected to issue warnings for as far west as the Bahamas and extending south to the northern Windward Islands. Swells could exceed 5 m (17 ft) across the Bahamas.
The impact on shorelines will not be the same everywhere. Depending on the depth, size, shape and the natural shelter of the coastal waters, the impact will be different. Shallow north-facing shorelines are expected to see the highest swells and surfs; especiall for Barbuda and the more northerly islands.
In open waters, the swells will be virtually harmless to small craft operators as they will be long-period, gentle waves.
Again, this is no “swellmageddon”; however, there will be impacts and associated financial losses. Continue reading