(March 23) St. Lucia’s Sugar Beach Resort is going through the motions to stand out amongst its touristy neighbor islands.

St. Lucia is an independent island nation in the eastern Caribbean Sea.  The island has been called “Helen of the West Indies” and was likened to the mythical figure, Helen of Troy.

A new luxury property development is in the works.  Currently known as the Jalousie Plantation resort, the new Sugar Beach resort will offer 150 villas plus guestrooms with private swimming pools, beach lounge, spa and restaurant.  The setting includes 190 acres of rainforest and ideal white sand beaches.  

Says Macro Bonini, managing director of Caribbean property specialist Prestigious Properties, “The region is truly a year-round destination, with direct flights from the UK and USA.  St. Lucia will be key in 2009.  Prices are well below those in Barbados, but the island is now seeing the arrival of true luxury resorts.”

Sugar Beach Resort is set for a 2011 completion date.  Prices for a one-bedroom villa start from $700,000 and rise to $1.6 million for a two-bedroom villa.

Caymans, Jamaica, Martinique, and St. Lucia narrowly dodge Hurricane Dean

A summary of hurricane news from around the Caribbean:

Hurricane Dean is one of the most dangerous storms in the history of the Caribbean.  Dean's 150 MPH winds could have wiped out much of the travel and tourism spots from the eastern Caribbean west to Mexico, not to mention caused deaths to the Caribbean's citizens.

But thankfully, Dean's path  kept it away from the most populous and traveled islands of the Caribbean.  The track fell in a most advantageous direction; Jamaica probably suffered the most damage of the Caribbean islands, but was feeling  'thankful'.  Jamaica's resorts are generally on the north side of Jamaica, buffered by the island as hurricane Dean passed to the south.

In St. Lucia, a roof was torn off a hospital as Dean tore through the St. Lucia Channel.  

And Martinique suffered 70 MPH winds as Dean came ashore for the very first time.  The worst damage seems to be to Martinique's banana industry, caused by flooding.    The Martinique government is estimating $337 million in damages.

At one point, Dean looked to hit the Caymans dead on,  but turned south in time to spare Grand Cayman. Reports are not in from Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, but because they sit north of Grand Cayman, we assume that they made it OK as well. 

Mexico is a different story. Dean battered Mexico not once, but twice.  Hitting the Yucatan, then crossing the Gulf of Mexico into mainland Mexico where as many as 13 people were reported killed.   Mexico's Costa Maya, which is south of Cancun was hit with 165 MPH winds. The Costa Maya is a developing Caribbean destination and might have been delivered a series setback.

CTN will update the post hurricane dean reports as we receive them.

 

Update via NOAA at 8pm AST; The Windward Islands of Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, and St. Lucia are now feeling the effects of Hurricane Dean.  Here is the updated storm path.

Dean is now a huge, Category 2 hurricane with sustained wind speeds upward of 100 MPH.  As of Midnight tonight, Dean is only about 150 miles east of Martinique and 60 miles north of Barbados.  Dean is currently traveling at 25 miles per hour towards the west and slightly northwest.  

By 4am Eastern, Thursday morning, Dean will be just south of Martinique and north of St. Lucia.  

According to the updated path, hurricane Dean should travel across the empty middle of the Caribbean and make second landfall on the southern end of Jamaica approxmately noon on Sunday before heading for the Yucatan and eventually heading towards southern Texas or northern Mexico on Tuesday or Wednesday.  It will likely be a category 1 hurricane on Saturday. 

NOAA website: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov 

As of 9am eastern, NOAA has released a new update.  Hurricane Dean is now 350 miles east of Barbados, traveling about 23 MPH towards the West-Northwest.  Maximum sustained winds are now 90 miles per hour - a huge jump since Wednesday evening.  Dean will likely turn into a Category 4 hurricane on Friday.

There's a Hurricane "Warning" for St. Lucia and Dominica.  That means the hurricane conditions are expected soon.  There's a hurricane "watch" for Guadeloupe & Martinique.  This means that hurricane conditions are possible withing 36 hours.  It will probably be elevated to a "warning" level later today.

Tropical Storm warnings exist for Barbados, St. Vincent, the Grenadines, Antigua, St. Martin, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Barbuda and St. Barts.

This means that the hurricane will likely pass right over the Guadeloupe-Dominican-Martinique-St.Lucia area of the Lesser Antilles.  

The updated path seems to have been adjusted a little since Wednesday evening.  The storm looks to be passing between St. Lucia and Martinique before making the long journey over the Caribbean towards Jamaica. The path looks to be traveling just south of Jamaica.

As it travels over the 85 degree F water of the northern Caribbean it's going to gain intensity.  We can only hope that it travels south of Jamaica and doesn't make a direct hit.

After Jamaica, the Yucatan Penisula is next.  The storm is following the exact path of Tropical Storm Erin which is currently in southern Texas.

More updates later today including links to webcams in the Caribbean.

NOAA hurricane site:  http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

 

NOAA's Wednesday 4am (eastern) update noted that Tropical Storm Dean had not increased wind speed and had stayed on its 18 miles per hour track towards the eastern Caribbean. 

But the latest update shows that in the last 6 hours Dean has intensified to 60 miles per hour wind speeds and has picked up speed to 20 miles per hour.  

Dean will likely become a hurricane (with 74 mph winds or higher) around Thursday afternoon and will approach the eastern Caribbean islands by Friday morning.  It will be a category 4 or 3 hurricane by then.

The Path: 

NOAA's computer model shows Dean's track remains the same since yesterday's update.  The storm will likely travel between St. Lucia and Martinique but could give either island a direct hit.  It will then travel through the middle of the Caribbean sea, and head for Jamaica.  

That's good news for most of the Caribbean - the northeast islands (Virgin Islands, St. Barts, St. Martin, Nevis, St. Kitts, Antigua, etc) will all be fairly safe.

It's also better news for Puerto Rico and Hispanola (Dominican Republic and Haiti).  It looks like these islands will be spared. 

However, Jamaica could be in bad shape.  As the Hurricane travels over that part of the Caribbean, it will be over water the whole time and gather strength. The water temps are above 85 degrees F right now - great for swimming but also for building powerful hurricanes.

After Jamaica, Cuba could be next and then southern Florida.  If it follows Tropical Storm Erin, it could head towards Texas. TheStormTrack.com has some better computer models for Dean's storm track.  Check out their storm path charts here

Updates: 

As always, stay tuned to Caribbean Travel News or visit NOAA directly for up-to-date hurricane Dean news.  NOAA's next update will be at 5pm AST (4pm eastern).

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ 

NOAA has updated the status of Tropical Storm Dean.  The report is located here.  The storm path has also been updated.  That graphic is located here.

Dean is approximately 1295 miles west of Barbados traveling west.  It has slowed to 18 miles per hour (from 24 mph).  But winds have increased to 50 miles per hour (from 40 at 5pm, eastern).

A Tropical Storm becomes a Hurricane at 74 miles per hour wind speed.   At this rate, the earliest point that Tropical Storm Dean becomes Hurricane Dean is Wednesday afternoon.  Obviously, that's a guesstimate.

Barbados is the most eastern Caribbean island.  NOAA's storm track path for Dean still has it traveling west, towards Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but drifting north as it approaches landfall.

NOAA's storm path for Dean now has it going south of Martinique but just north of St. Lucia and then continuing across the Caribbean (in an area with no islands) and continuing just south of Puerto Rico and Cuba. 

Stay tuned to Caribbean Travel News and NOAA's website:
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/#DEAN

 

 

 

Late last night, NOAA reclassified "#4" as Tropical Storm "Dean".  Dean will most likely become our first hurricane of the 2007 hurricane season. 

Dean will approach the eastern Caribbean by Friday and will possibly be a hurricane.  It's currently traveling West towards South America.

NOAA's storm track (available here) shows Dean moving Northwest as it approaches South America and heading for the eastern Caribbean possibly making initial landfall over the Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe area.

Then, according to NOAA,  will track northwest towards western Puerto Rico and the eastern part of Hispaniola (The Dominican Republic) and onward towards the Bahamas.  See the below map - click the map to enlarge.

Northern Caribbean islands of Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barts, Barbuda, Antigua should all pay close attention to the tracking maps.  Currently now, hurricane Dean looks to be glancing by this area on route to Puerto Rico. 

Southern Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Tortuga, and Margarita should also pay attention to the computer models.

But the islands that look to be right in the middle of Dean's path are: St. Kitts, Nevis, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, The Grenadines, and Barbados and then Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic/Haiti and possibly the Bahamas.  

TheStormTrack.com has other computer models that show the storm with a possible path north towards the east coast of the US, missing the Caribbean entirely.  Unfortunately, most models do have Dean heading right into the middle of the Caribbean.  

Sign up for text message updates from TheStormTrack.com here.

Visit NOAA's hurricane center here:
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/#DEAN

The storm off the western coast of Africa has become the Hurricane Season's fourth Tropical Depression.  Cleverly named "Tropical Depression #4", the storm is bearing towards at 21 miles per hour.

More news available here at Caribbean Travel News as information becomes available.

Monitor the NOAA's Hurricane Center website for best updates:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

 

The National Hurricane Center at NOAA is tracking a "tropical wave" off the coast of Africa.  This storm could form into a tropical "depression" as early as Monday, August 13, or Tuesday.

This wave is tracking towards the Caribbean and could become the first hurricane of the 2007 hurricane season.

From NOAA: "CONDITIONS APPEAR FAVORABLE FOR GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM".

September 10 is traditionally the height of the Atlantic Hurricane season.  Also, water temperatures are approaching prime conditions for development of hurricanes. 

If you are traveling to the Caribbean in the next two weeks, you may want to consider trip insurance.  Call a travel agent.

If you are currently vacationing in the Caribbean, stay tuned to Caribbean Travel News and/or the NOAA Hurricane Center website:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ 

 

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When we first spoke with Adam Moyer, meteorologists were predicting an active 2007 hurricane season.  Obviously, the season has been very calm. Caribbean Travel News wanted to check back in with Adam and get more details.  Adam spoke with us from Bermuda, where he has been working for the Bermuda Weather Service.

CTN: When we last checked in, it looked like it was going to be a La Nina summer with plenty of Atlantic hurricanes.  Yet we've only had 3  tropical storms so far.  Why has it been so quiet?

AM: Indeed, last time we spoke it seemed as though the Eastern Pacific was going to be cooler than usual, which would be indicative of La Nina conditions. Since that time, however, sea-surface and below sea-surface temperatures have warmed in the East Pacific to near normal, and therefore neither El Nino nor La Nina, conditions. It goes to show how poor meteorologists and climatologists are at forecasting the state of ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation) many months out.

It should be pointed out, though, that this season is only slightly below normal for this time of year. As the calender turns to the middle of August, the tropics begin to heat up and the frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes increases dramatically.

To answer why this season has been relatively quiet, especially compared to predictions, the answer is two-fold. First, June and July were very active months for Saharan Air Layers (SALs). Essentially, storms over Africa deposit dust from the Sahara Desert in the middle troposphere (about 15,000 feet up). The Saharan dust dries and heats the middle troposphere. Both of these conditions tend to inhibit the creation of tropical cyclones. Secondly, sea-surface temperatures have been merely average across much of the Atlantic. In 2004 and 2005, sea-surface temperatures were some 2-3C (3-5F) degrees above normal in the regions where we expect storms to form. All else being equal, regions of warmer sea-surface temperatures should have higher frequency of tropical storms.

That said, one shouldn't be too liberal with that statement and try to apply it to global warming. In a global warming sense, all things are not equal to what they currently are, and the latest research is divided as to whether global warming causes an increase in hurricanes.


CTN:  Will this relative calm continue?

AM: Relatively speaking, I would forecast the progression of the season to be near normal. Totals for the season should be expected to fall somewhere in the neighborhood of twelve to fourteen tropical storms, seven to nine hurricanes, and three to five major hurricanes. I expect that the season from here on out will start to become more active than we have seen. Just this week, Tropical Storm Chantal formed and a vigorous tropical wave is producing 55 mph winds in the Caribbean Sea. I think these events portend what the next two or three months will be like.


CTN: Travelers watch weather sites, like Weather.com, TheStormTrack.com, etc for hurricane predictions/reports.  Are there key indicators that we can follow to help monitor potential storms.  Like water temperatures in the Caribbean, etc.

AM: For long term forecasting, keep an eye on sea-surface temperatures and sea-surface temperature differences from normal. As the sea-surface temperatures hit their maximum in September, more hurricanes will form.

For short-term forecasting, read the National Hurricane Center's Tropical Weather Outlook, which they have expanded to a graphical product this year. The Tropical Weather Outlook will provide information as to where NHC thinks regions of disturbed weather could form into tropical storms. Also, my website, thestormtrack.com will be up and running smoothly once I get back to the States from Bermuda in September. Bryan has been busy with research and I have been forecasting for the Bermuda Weather Service all summer, so updates have been few and far between. That will change as the season heats up and the fall semester gets moving.


CTN: At what point can we stop worrying about hurricanes in the Atlantic? November?

AM: The National Hurricane Center defines the end of the Atlantic Hurricane Season to be November 31. This is mainly an arbitrary date, however. Some years, no storms form after the middle of October. Other years, like 2005, tropical storms were forming after Christmas. Obviously, 2005 was the busiest year on record, but I think the public can generally stop paying attention in November. If anything forms after that, it's usually strange enough that the mainstream media will pick up on it rather quickly.

CTN: Thanks, Adam.  Keep track of Adam's forecasts via www.thestormtrack.com.

 

Adam Moyer's background: Adam is a Ph.D. candidate in meteorology at Penn State University.  Adam is currently in Bermuda, forecasting for the Bermuda Weather Service. Website: TheStormTrack.com.

No recent news for St. Lucia.
Yes, off-season rates in the Caribbean can be super affordable. But you've got to keep in mind that mother nature also makes summer trips to the Caribbean.

July to November is the true "Hurricane Season", but as May of 2007 showed, hurricane-like storms can form outside of those months. Typically, you're pretty safe up through June. 2007, however, is forecasted to be a strong hurricane season.

Why is the Caribbean a target during the summer months? Adam Moyer, of TheStormTrack.com, blames low pressure systems from Africa.

"They are the remnants of large thunderstorm complexes that form over the Sahel region of Africa due to the African monsoon", said Moyer. "Once they move out over the open waters of the Atlantic, they can be the seeds for tropical development. African easterly waves are the seeds for 60-80% of the hurricanes we see in the Atlantic in a given year and are definitely the types of storms that affect the weather in the Lesser Antilles in the summer months." [Read Caribbean Travel News' interview with Moyer here.]

Caribbean Travel Recommendations

We here at CTN have traveled to the Caribbean several times during the summer. We just can't pass up the deals. (We missed a hurricane by 7 days in St. Barts in 1999, but felt the after effects on a super wavy boat ride.)

If you're planning on going this summer, we'd suggest some travel insurance. Your travel agent or online travel planner can provide insurance and it's usually not that expensive.

As your trip gets closer, use the Web to track potential storms. And use the Web to regularly check in during your trip as well. You're probably planning on being cut off from the world and a hurricane might sneak up on you.

If a hurricane looks to be approaching while you're at your destination, don't wait it out. Make alternative plans early so that you're not caught without a way out before the storm. We've heard some horror stories from folks who can't get out and have to wait it out through the storm - in a distant land.

But don't let a bad hurricane forecast keep you away from the Caribbean this summer. Summer water temperatures are even better than winter. The sailing winds are stronger in summer. And there isn't a crowd in sight in places like St. Barts and Anguilla.

If you pass on that trip this summer, you'll be sorry you did.

Caribbean Weather links:
The National Hurricane Center
Weather Underground
TheStormTrack.com
Hurricane season got an early start this year when Andrea, a subtropical storm, formed off the east coast of Florida and Georgia.

Andrea never attempted a landfall, but she reminded us that many forecasters are calling for an active 2007 Atlantic hurricane season.

In order to help prepare for travel to the Caribbean during hurricane season, Caribbean Travel News spoke with Adam Moyer from TheStormTrack.com. Adam is a Ph.D. candidate in meteorology at Penn State University.

CTN: Andrea showed up early. Do you think this is a sign of a bad upcoming season?

AM: Andrea was a rare May storm this year. However, you cannot extrapolate that for the whole season. For example, Ana formed in April of 2003, and 2003 was a relatively normal year (this is for the more recent "excited" period for North Atlantic tropical cyclones, 1995-current). Also, Andrea formed under different conditions than we normally expect with tropical cyclones. Andrea was a winter, cold-core low that stalled out off the coast of the Carolinas. The sea-surface temperatures were much lower than the typical threshold forecasters use. Through its thunderstorm activity, however, it developed some tropical characteristics, although I don't think it could ever be actually termed fully tropical. That's why it was named a subtropical storm.

CTN: Forecasters are calling for a busy hurricane season in the atlantic, as they did last year. How are these predictions made and can we trust them?

AM: One of the major reasons forecasters are calling for an active season this year is because the El Nino that persisted throughout the last hurricane season has dissipated. During an El Nino year, when sea-surface temperatures are much warmer than usual off the west coast of South America, there is a tendency for general downward motion over the tropical Atlantic. This works to inhibit thunderstorm development. This year, it appears we may be headed to the opposite of an El Nino, which is called La Nina. La Nina years are often quite active years in the tropical Atlantic. As far as how forecasts are made, I'm not 100% sure. I know Bill Gray's group at Colorado State uses a multiple linear regression to forecast the number of storms and that an El Nino index is included as one of the parameters. I'm really not sure what NHC/NOAA uses for their predictions. However, I think we are in for an active season, simply because we are headed into a La Nina. I think these forecasts are good for getting a general idea as to whether a particular season will be active or not, but I wouldn't put a lot of stock in the exact number they forecast.

CTN: It seems like tropical storms come off Africa, across the atlantic and head straight for the eastern Caribbean islands. Why is this?

AM: The tropical Atlantic is governed in the summertime by disorganized areas of low pressure known as African easterly waves. They are the remnants of large thunderstorm complexes that form over the Sahel region of Africa due to the African monsoon. Once they move out over the open waters of the Atlantic, they can be the seeds for tropical development. African easterly waves are the seeds for 60-80% of the hurricanes we see in the Atlantic in a given year and are definitely the types of storms that affect the weather in the Lesser Antilles in the summer months.

CTN: Everyone knows Weather.com, but can you recommend how travelers can keep an eye on upcoming storms?

AM: The National Hurricane Center's website is the best website to use for tracking possible storms. Not only do they issue the advisories for storms already present, you can read their "Tropical Weather Outlook," which will let you know if there any storms on the horizon. Other good places to go for non-technical (and non-official) discussion are my blog and the tropical page on the Weather Underground.

CTN: Thanks, Adam.