Weekend Winter Gales


AQUA MODIS JAN 31 2015
A Powerful Winter Low over the southwestern tip of Nova Scotia in the afternoon of January 31 2015. A cold front extends in an arc to the south and east of the parent low and a field of ocean-effect cumuliform clouds dominates the western Atlantic. Image roughly centered on Bermuda. AQUA MODIS 

Late last week a cold front brought cooler, drier air to the island. This air was accompanied by mostly cloudy to overcast skies courtesy of a stratocumulus field that quickly developed behind the front in the cold air. Northwesterly winds dropped off quickly and veered to the southeast for Friday. Southeasterly winds quickly ramped up to strong/near gale force by Friday evening and some bands of light showers developed in the southeasterly flow. Winds then continued to veer to the southwest, increasing near gale/gale force ahead of a strong cold front.

While not particularly active, heavy showers ahead of  the cold front were associated with winds dropping to moderate/strong and becoming variable between southwest and west-northwest. The cold front then passed about an hour later bringing more steady west-northwesterly winds that increased to strong/near gale force.

westatlantic-radar-2015-01-31-1643
Bermuda Weather Service Radar Imagery showing the scattered ocean-effect showers late-afternoon January 31 2015. Some of the heavier showers (red cells) contained hail.

Through the morning, winds slowly increased as the pressure difference increased between the strengthening storm over Nova Scotia and a building high over the southeastern United States. Ocean-effect shower activity also increased in coverage and intensity through the morning as increasingly cold air blew in above the relatively warm waters of the west Atlantic. Near gale force west-northwesterly winds briefly increased to gale force with occasional storm force gusts (peaking at 59mph at the airport, 56 at my PWS) in and around these showers. Isolated heavier showers were accompanied by small hail and rain-cooled air into the low 50s (51.8ºF at the airport, and 50.0ºF at my PWS).

Winds gradually subsided through the day Sunday with shower activity diminishing. Cooler and less humid than normal weather remains in place as west-northwesterly winds subside and back through southwesterly overnight Sunday night. This is ahead of another front that is expected to increase these southwesterly winds to near gale force on Monday. The front passes early Tuesday morning then ushers in another brief period of near gale force west-northwesterly winds on Tuesday.

See the Bermuda Weather Service for the latest official forecast information, including local warnings and observations.

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