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Island survives hurricane season unscathed

Bermuda has escaped the brunt of a devastating hurricane season, with no storm watches or warnings issued for the island the first time in ten years.

The news came as this year's Atlantic hurricane season came to a close yesterday.

The Caribbean and the United States were battered by a series of major hurricanes — but no hurricane watches or warnings were issued for Bermuda.

James Dodgson, director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said: “The last time this occurred was way back in 2007.”

Mr Dodgson said that tropical cyclones can form outside of the official season but that colder seas and a more active jet stream mean they usually remain “more subtropical in nature”.

The 2017 season had an early start with Tropical Storm Arlene in April, more than a month before the season's official start on June 1.

Several smaller storms formed in June and July, but the hurricane season really picked up in August with the formation of Hurricane Harvey.

Harvey, which caused extensive flood damage in Texas, was the first in a series of major hurricanes including Irma, Jose and Maria.

Irma tore through the Caribbean, causing extensive damage to Barbuda and St Martin, while Maria devastated Dominica and plunged Puerto Rico into darkness.

Several storms were considered “potential threats” to the island during the season, but none came close enough to spark an official watch or warning.

Mr Dodgson said part of the reason the Caribbean bore the brunt this year was a weak La Niña, which encouraged hurricane growth in the region.

He explained: “During 2014-15 there was a weak El Niño in place, while during 2015-16, there was a very strong El Niño in place.

“This meant increased wind shear in the area where some of the big name storms developed this year.

“Essentially the wind shear prevented significant tropical cyclone development in this region during 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“However, move forward to 2017 and a weak La Niña developed, reducing wind shear in the same area.

“This helped to open the floodgates for tropical cyclone development in this region once again, and contributed at least partially to the development of major hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria.”

Mr Dodgson added that the conditions that helped hinder Caribbean hurricane growth between 2014 and 2016 did not affect Bermuda which left the island vulnerable to storms.

He added: “With several other ingredients in place such as warmer than average sea surface temperatures, plenty of moisture and increased instability available, Bermuda remained at risk of tropical cyclone development.

“The ingredients were in place for Hurricanes Fay, Gonzalo, Joaquin and Nicole to develop in our general area.”

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Published December 01, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated December 01, 2017 at 1:42 pm)

Island survives hurricane season unscathed

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