BWS Director Dr Mark Guishard

Feeling the heat more than usual a little lately, or maybe even a lot during one of the hottest months of the year as we approach the end of August 2021?

That coupled with all that severe heatwaves, severe drought conditions and wildfires affecting an estimated 70 million residents across the pond – makes for a very hot summer in Bermuda.

So we contacted the Bermuda Weather Service (BWS) to find out just how hot it has really been in Bermuda in recent weeks.

As it turns out, this past Wednesday, August 25 “was the hottest day to date, so far this year. And guess what? With the high temperature of 88°F/31°C” logged in, “combined with the relative humidity getting up to 81 percent – guess how hot it really was?

When contacted by Bermuda Real, BWS Director Dr Mark Guishard, said: “The heat index reached approximately 106°F/41°C.

“At that level in the heat index, the US National Weather Service advises that sunstroke, muscle cramps, and/or heat exhaustion are likely. Heat stroke is also possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity,” he said.

What’s causing all this extra heat?

According to Mr Guishard: “Bermuda has been under the influence of somewhat persistent high pressure, which is common for this time of year.”

But he said: “This can be a double-edged sword.  

“On the one hand, the Bermuda-Azores High effectively acts as a block to weather disturbances, so it keeps systems like tropical storms and hurricanes at bay, maintaining sunny and settled conditions.”

What does that mean in terms of weather conditions for the next few weeks during the hurricane season’s peak period?

“The next couple of weeks are the climatological peak of hurricane season, but any time from now through October have historically seen storms affect Bermuda,” said Dr Guishard.

“At the moment, the Bermuda Weather Service is watching a few tropical disturbances in the Atlantic, none of which are currently (August 26) anticipated to make an impact in Bermuda. However, the public is urged to maintain a close eye on the tropics through this, the height of the Atlantic hurricane season – it only takes one storm to make it an active season for us.” 

However, the abundant sunshine we are currently enjoying because of this high pressure is enabling temperatures to get up to the usual high levels this time of year,” he added.

“Another side effect of the sustained high pressure is that it tends to prevent widespread and prolonged rainfall.

“As of August 25, 2021, rainfall thus far this year is 35.81 inches or 910 mm, which is just about average for the year-to-date total rain accumulation (based on climatological averages for the period 1971-2000).

“However, a closer look at the data reveals more detail that is worth noting. Instead of comparing the whole year-to-date, we can examine the last 90 days – looking at rain amounts from that perspective shows that we’re drier than average for this time of year, and this dry spell has developed in the last three (3) weeks. “

In terms of summer water supplies, that translates into heavy demand for local water truckers. You may want to keep on top of the water levels in your tanks.

Now that we’re heading straight into the height of the 2021 hurricane season, the good news is, BWS (a section of the Bermuda Airport Authority) located at LF Wade International Airport has a 24-hour, round-the-clock operational shift staff, plus three (3) support staff, including five (5) Meteorological Technicians and five (5) Meteorological Forecasters on constant watch, even while you are sleeping.

“The Met Techs conduct and record observations, supporting the real-time weather needs of aviation, marine and public interests; they are the source of Bermuda’s official climate record,” said Dr Guishard.

“Met Techs utilize advanced technology such as Doppler radar and electronic weather instruments, mixed with tried and tested methods like weather balloons, plus expert informed judgement and long experience, to make the most accurate observations.

The Forecasters make analyses and predictions of the future state of the weather for the next 24 hours for aviation purposes, and out to five (5) days for marine and public interests.

“Forecasters leverage a wide variety of tools, such as the observations provided by the Met Techs locally, regional observations from other weather stations, as well as satellite imagery, and numerical weather models; applying years of training and scientific expertise.

“There is always one Forecaster and one Met Tech on shift, 24/7/365 days a year,” he added.

The Forecasters also issue advisories and warnings to alert to the threat of natural hazards like hurricanes.

“Although we don’t produce seasonal forecasts at BWS, there are a host of academic, private and public sector entities who do – and they are all indicating an above average season in the Atlantic in 2021.

“The seasonal predictions don’t have a lot of meaning for local interests, as Bermuda has been hit in above- and below-average seasons alike. It only takes one storm to make it an active season for us.”

So what are we looking at this year as opposed to last year’s hurricane season?

Last year (2020) saw no less than five (5) tropical systems threaten Bermuda, but with only two (2) coming close enough to warrant any real concern – Category 2 Hurricane Paulette passed right over the island causing power outages, vegetation damage and some limited structural impacts,” he said.

“Hurricane Teddy, hard on Paulette’s heels and coming close within a week of Paulette, made a glancing blow to the island. Luckily its main effects were storm surge and wave action.”

As natives familiar with the hurricane rundown in Bermuda, we remember the power outages, hurricane damage, flooding and the food supply issues that comes with it.

Once again, the good news is we get through it!

Let’s hope for a quiet peak hurricane season period as we approach the month of September.

It’s hot, and it drains your energy and on days when the humidity is real high, for some it becomes a major issue just trying to keep breathing – never mind moving around in all this heat.

But in the interim, let’s send a special shout out to the BWS crew who keep watch over us for each and everything moving around this tiny spec of a drop in the Atlantic Ocean, in terms of our weather conditions.

Thanks for the heat index information, Mr Guishard – Much Appreciated by Bermuda Real! 

More details on the daily forecast, hourly observations, longer term climate data and of course tropical systems are available at www.weather.bm.