Overview of 2019 Hurricane Season



In its May 2019 outlook, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a near normal season with 9 to 15 named storms of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes, including 2 to 4 major hurricanes. An ongoing El Niño event which normally suppresses tropical storm activity, warmer than average sea surface temperatures and an enhanced West African Monsoon which favors hurricane activity influenced this forecast. In August, with the cessation of the EL Nino event, NOAA’s updated forecast increased the likelihood for an above normal-season. This called for 10 to 17 named storms, of which 5 to 9 would become hurricanes with 2 to 4 major hurricanes.

The 2019 season began ahead of the official June 1st start with the development of subtropical storm Andrea on May 20th. By November 30th, the official end of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, 18 named storms had formed, of which 6 became hurricanes and 3 became major hurricanes. The seasonal long term average is 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. There were also two tropical depressions that did not reach tropical-storm strength. Overall, the season was above normal.


This was a relatively quiet season for Dominica with only one tropical cyclone presenting a direct threat to the island. In August, Tropical Storm Dorian approached the Windward Islands, a north westerly turn in the forecast track prompted the issue of a tropical storm watch for Dominica, on August 25th. On the 27th, Dorian passed about 90 miles south of the island and the watch was discontinued that afternoon. The system nonetheless generated significant showers across parts of the island with winds gusting to tropical storm force and choppy sea conditions. Dorian went on to become a major hurricane which battered parts of the Bahamas. The following month, on September 19th while Tropical Storm Jerry passed to the north of the Leeward Islands, sea conditions deteriorated as the system generated northerly swells across the island chain. Just a few days later, on September 22nd, Tropical Storm Karen entered the Caribbean Sea through the southern Windward Islands. Karen’s northerly track west of the Lesser Antilles resulted in coastal flooding along the west coast of Dominica, from the 22nd to the 25th.

As we have observed over the years, many high rainfall events during the season, which resulted in localized floods, were as a result of troughs and not tropical cyclone activity. In that regard, the Dominica Meteorological Service continues to express the need for members of the public to always remain informed on weather which may be impactful. It is only then that decisive actions to safeguard life and property can be taken.