Bermuda Dodges a Bullet with Severe Weather Threat


All indicators suggested that a significant precipitation event was shaping up last weekend, and that the atmosphere was primed for severe thunderstorms; temperatures were above normal reaching into the low 70s; dewpoints were high, reaching the mid 60s; and an approaching frontal system was set to be the catalyst for these thunderstorms.

And there were indeed some significant thunderstorms.

The morning began with some light rain and showers associated with a warm front lifting northwards – it had been the remnant of a cold front that passed 36 hours earlier. Then overcast skies became patchier and cleared out at times. However, the trained eye knew that was providing one further ingredient in the recipe for trouble.  Warm, moist, southerly winds developed into the afternoon and increased strong with gusts to gale force into the early evening.

All the ingredients were there for strong thunderstorms, and then the front passed in the late evening hours with little fan fare. Looking at the Bermuda Weather Service Radar, one would take note that as the front passed, intense thunderstorms were blowing up only 50 miles to the east of Bermuda.

Bermuda lucked out once again for dangerous weather. Or, one could argue that we couldn’t get any luck in terms of rainfall as 2012 continues the below average trend on rainfall.

Satellite images of the area as the front was over Bermuda on the left, and as the trough was over Bermuda on the right. From the satellite archive at UNISYS (http://weather.unisys.com/archive/sat_ir/).

After the front passed, a post-frontal trough sitting on the North Carolina/Virginia coast swung around the exiting storm system and moved east-southeast towards Bermuda. On Sunday afternoon, the tail end of the same trough in a weakened state brushed Bermuda. Winds reached a solid gale force with gusts safely over storm force. Some island peak wind reports from the Bermuda Weather Service and Wunderground are listed below.

Magnolia hall (Smith’s Parish) – 49mph, g. 66mph

Bermuda Weather Service (St. George’s Parish) – 47mph, g. 62mph

Gilbert Hill ( Smith’s Parish) – 37mph, g. 50mph

George’s Bay (Sandy’s Parish ) – 35mph, g. 49mph

My PWS (Devonshire Parish) – 23mph, g. 47mph

Moore’s Lane (Pembroke Parish) – 31mph, g. 43mph

Knapton Hill (Smith’s Parish) – 29mph, g. 39mph

Unknown (Devonshire Parish) – 34mph, g. 37mph

Although the storm didn’t deliver in terms of rainfall (the entire storm only produced 0.42″ over three days) , the post frontal trough did bring the highest wind gusts of the winter gale season, and the lowest pressure so far this year at around 1000mb.

It is of note that in an isolated shower, rain cooled air managed to bring temperatures into the upper 40s around 3am on Monday morning – my PWS bottomed out at 49.5F. Nearby stations did record a drop in temperature, but not as significant – only into the low 50s.

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