Hurricane Season Approaches in Mahahual

I was told this the other day, and I have been trying to find some research to back it up.  The other day I was told that the lobster fishermen here in Mahahual are having to go real deep now to find lobster.  When the lobster are in deep water in July and August here, that means that an active hurricane season is in store for us here on the Mexican Caribbean.

In doing my research to prove or disapprove of this, I came across this study.

“It is generally accepted that seasonal changes in the physico-chemical environment, particularly temperature and salinity, affect the catch and movements of the American lobster Homarus amencanus (McCleese & Wilder 1958, Krouse 1973, Munro & Therriault 1983, Reynolds & Casterlin 1985, Ennis 1986, Robichaud & Campbell 1991, Campbell 1992, DiBacco & Pringle 1992, W. Watson, H. Howell & A. Vetrovs unpubl. data). Intense storms often cause transient drops in salinity and changes in water temperature, and several anecdotal reports suggest that these events trigger movements of lobsters. For example, both Cooper et al. (1975) and Ennis (1984) observed that adult lobsters in inshore regions undertake small-scale movements downslope from shallow waters to deeper areas in response to stormy conditions. It was also noted that when these storms occur during the summer, the lobsters usually return to shallow waters shortly after the ‘Present address: SEA Division, NOAA, N/ORCA 1. SSMC 4, 1305 East West Hwy, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA ‘ ‘Addressee for correspondence event (Ennis 1984). After particularly severe storms, there have been reports of many dead lobsters washed up on beaches in New Brunswick (Prince 1897) and on Prince Edward Island, Canada (D. J. Scarratt pers. comm. reported in Drinkwater et al. 1991), and the rapid declines in salinity associated with some storms have reportedly caused lobster mortalities when the freshwater layer reached low enough to cover their burrows (Thomas 1968, Thomas & White 1969). Taken together, these reports suggest that during storms lobsters move to deeper water which is colder, calmer and has a higher salinity. The purpose of this study was to collect movement and catch data which might improve our understanding of this behavior. Catastrophic storms, particularly hurricanes, may perturb the inshore environment by several means including increased turbidity (Tabb & Jones 1962, Saloman & Naughton 1977), depletion of oxygen due to decomposition of exposed or resuspended organic sediments or detritus (Tabb & Jones 1962, Saloman & Naughton 1977, Knott & Martore 1991), physical disturbance due to tidal, wind and wave action (Saloman & Naughton 1977, Yeo & Risk 1979, Lowery 1992), and low salinities caused by heavy rains and runoff (Saloman & Naughton 1977, Knott & Martore 1991). The most obvious environmental impact of severe storms (e.g. hurricanes) on temperate estuaries is the occurrence of freshets (Witham et al. 1968, Boesch et al. 1976, Knott & Martore 1991) which cause a rapid, and large, drop in salinity.”  source:

So I guess there is some scientific evidence for this factor, and it is not just an old fisherman’s tale.  It has something with the water being warm also, so the lobsters head for deeper and colder water here in the Caribbean.

So with that factor, and everything else I have read, it looks like the hurricane season here will be very active this year.  Also this is the year after “El Nino”, and that in the past has always been an active hurricane season in the Caribbean.

There is already a hurricane on the way, expected to hit here next week.

Last year we had no hurricane activity here in Mahahual at all.  Last hurricane we had was Ernesto a couple of years ago.  In fact this weekend the Jats”a-Ja’ festival is going on.  The festival was started after Hurricane Dean destroyed Mahahual in 2007, and is a celebration of the rebuilding of Mahahual.

The festival is going on all weekend with different activities, and a stage with live music at night.  It is put on every year on the anniversary of Hurricane Dean.

2016 Atlantic,

Caribbean & Gulf Of

Mexico Hurricane

Season Forecast

Summary: The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season is likely to be much more active than the 2015 Hurricane season. In fact, this season could be the most active hurricane season since 2012. In addition, it appears that we will see longer lasting tropical storm activity this year as well as more hurricane activity this season as compared to the last few years.

With that said, the forecast for the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season continues to be a very difficult one due to many factors that may be in favor for a very active season but other ones may cause it to be quite inactive.

The Numbers: 11 more named storms (we have already seen the development of Alex back in January), 8 of those storms becoming hurricanes and 3 of those hurricanes becoming major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale).

Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index Forecast: I am forecasting an ACE index this year of 110. This number basically says that I expect that overall activity in the Atlantic may be 10 percent above the long term average. Compare this to the 2015 Hurricane Season which had a ACE index of 58.

ENSO Conditions: It continues to look very likely still looks very likely that we will transition into neutral conditions as we head into summer and then into La Nina conditions by late this summer or early this autumn. All of the ENSO model guidance continues to support this forecast and it is now inevitable that we will have La Nina conditions by Autumn, if not before then.

Sea Surface Temperatures: Even though the sea surface temperatures across the eastern and northeastern Atlantic have warmed up considerably since early April, they are still below average across the Azores Islands and along the coast of Portugal. Further west, the ocean water temperatures across the western Atlantic are above average and this could potentially mean we could see tropical systems form close to the US coastline and the Bahamas.

Risk Areas: The European model guidance’s tropical activity forecast is forecasting enhanced tropical cyclone activity near the US East Coast, across the western Gulf Coast and across the Yucatan Peninsula. In addition, the European model guidance is also forecasting below average activity across the central and eastern Atlantic.

Another model, the NMME model, is forecasting that the highest risk areas could be the northwestern Caribbean, much of the Gulf of Mexico and along the US East Coast. In addition, the NMME model is forecasting that the eastern Caribbean and the Lesser Antilles could be active in terms of tropical cyclone activity.

Our Thoughts On Risk Areas Are That I continue to strongly believe that the Gulf of Mexico and particularly the northern and western Gulf Coast has an increased threat for a hurricane impact during the 2016 Hurricane Season. This is supported by the analog years that I have identified as all have had at least one tropical storm or hurricane impact on the Gulf Coast.

Elsewhere, it looks as if the Caribbean and the Atlantic between the Lesser Antilles and the coast of Africa could be inactive due to colder than average ocean water temperatures and potentially unfavorable conditions across the eastern Atlantic.

Finally, the entire US East Coast could also be an active area in terms of tropical cyclone activity with at least 1 tropical storm or hurricane threat/impact this season with no one area at higher risk than another.

All-in-all, I think that we will see most, if not all of the tropical systems this year form in the area north of 20 North Latitude and west of 60 West Longitude with the area of main concern the Gulf of Mexico and particularly the northern and western US Gulf Coast.”

2016 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Names:


So batten down the hatches, and get ready for an active hurricane season in Mahahual and the Western Caribbean this year.  I have already been through eight hurricanes, so I am not too worried, just head to high ground.

Thanks for reading,

Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

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