High Surf Warning
Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services
8:00 AM Sunday 19 January 2020
A high surf warning is in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla
and the British Virgin Islands. The worst conditions are expected today and on the
northern side of Barbuda.
Large, long period swells, being generated by a powerful mid-latitude (bomb) cyclone, located over
the northern North Atlantic, are reaching the area. The swells are causing very high surfs and very
powerful rip currents, which are severe threats to life and property in the surf zone. There is also the
increased likelihood of damage due to flooding of some low-lying coastal areas.
Seas: 2.5 – 4.5m (8 – 15ft), occasionally or locally reaching around 5.5m (19ft). Swell
period: 10 – 16 seconds. Swells: north at 2 to over 4 metres (7 to 13 feet) and occasionally
Surfs (breaking swells): Over 3 metres (over 10 feet). These conditions will be very
conducive for dangerous rip currents. Please note that surfs could be as much as twice the
height of swells, depending on the bathymetry of the near shore areas.
Coastal flooding: High tides combine with onshore wind and swell actions will result in
coastal flooding and beach erosion.
Locations (to be) affected: Reefs and especially exposed northern and north-facing
coastlines with relatively shallow, gentle to moderately sloping near shore areas.
Timing: Until Monday for Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, and until Tuesday morning for
Impacts (possible/likely/expected): Loss of life – strong currents that can carry even the
strongest swimmers out to sea; injuries to beachgoers; beach erosion; sea water splashing
onto low lying coastal roads; beach closures; disruptions to marine recreation and
businesses; financial losses; damage to coral reefs; salt water intrusion and disruptions to
potable water from desalination. High surfs can knock spectators off exposed rocks and
jetties. Breaking waves may occasionally impact harbours making navigating the harbour
Precautionary/preparedness actions: A high surf warning means that dangerous
battering waves, with surfs of over 3 metres or over 10 feet, will pound the shoreline,
producing life-threatening conditions. No one should enter the water, especially on the
northern sides of the islands. All are also urged to stay away from rocky and or coastal
structures along beaches in the affected areas.
Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore, which occur
most often at low spots or breaks in the sandbar and near structures such as groins, jetties
If caught in a rip current, relax and float. Don`t swim against the current. If able, swim in a
direction following the shoreline. If unable to escape, face the shore and call or wave for
help. Stay tuned for further updates.
Forecaster: Dale Destin