The Little Engine that could… is the best way to describe the source of the African Continent hurricane activity in the Caribbean Basin and points north. Considering that the 16th parallel on that land mass churns out the massive storms from an area that we can think of as desert and barren lands, the patterns are precise. From June 1st to October 31st the nations of the West Indies are under the gun for tropical waves from Africa. Spaghetti Charts ( I love these words) clearly indicate the track of theses tropical waves. Senegal, Mauritania, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Western Sahara, Gambia and Mali all contribute to the pressure cooker driving the storms. Though, for Cape Verde, drought has ravaged the region for decades, driving food shortages.
As the hurricane season develops, the waves begin to roll off the western coast and form toward the borderline of status on the south of the islands. Each one is numbered as TS # 13, for example of a Tropical Storm, or 94L to denote a Depression Wave.
The patterns are like clock-work toward the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean Sea.
Mariners use services to plot and track all storms. NOAA and HURDAT, http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/index.html offer many tools.
I use http://stormcarib.com/guide.htm , because the depth of the Island data is linked to ground watchers and pleas for help are incorporated after disasters. Special local hurricane correspondents report from the Caribbean Islands about the situation with regards to threatening tropical systems daily.
Each season brings it’s own challenges, and the 2011 Hurricane Season is no different. As I prepare to negotiate the next Wave off the Cape Verdes, my eyes are on the Leeward Islands I love so much. Field assignment September 9th, 2011 Punta Cana, DR, just grazed by Irene 8/24/2011. Peace.