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Brian Headshot
The 2019 Atlantic Tropical Outlook
By: Brian Whitley, Senior Meteorologist/Asst. Operations Manager

May is here which means the Atlantic Tropical Season is on the horizon. This outlook summarizes the forecasted trends for potential number of systems and where the favorable areas of development will be. The below outlook and our in-season summaries/advisories are a guide for companies to plan where and when to focus their personnel and assets. This can help minimize losses due to lengthy delays or added distance, all to maintain a safe and efficient operation.

Forecasting tropical activity for an entire season in May can be a challenge, but meteorologists can look at a number of climate-related tools to see how what is happening now could affect the tropics in the months ahead. Among them are the status of El Niño/La Niña, sea surface temperatures, and anticipated wind shear within the atmosphere.

  • El Niño (or La Niña) can have significant effects on the wind shear in the atmosphere downstream from the East Pacific across the Caribbean Sea to the Tropical Atlantic. There is a weak El Niño ongoing now, and most signs point to this continuing through the summer and likely into the fall as well. This would result in stronger W'ly winds aloft in the Tropical Atlantic, and that increases shear in the atmosphere, which in turn can make it more difficult for systems to develop.

  • The sea surface temperatures now are near to slightly below normal from the Gulf of Mexico to/through the Caribbean and across the Tropical Atlantic. However, waters in the sub-tropical Atlantic are averaging somewhat warmer than normal currently.
In an average year, the Atlantic produces 12 named systems and 6.4 hurricanes. Given the expectation of a continued El Niño and slightly below normal water temperatures, WRI expects a season near normal to slightly below normal, with 10-12 named storms and 5-6 hurricanes.
What will be interesting to see is if there are more systems that develop outside of the "normal" areas. El Niño typically has less of an effect in the sub-tropical Atlantic, where seas are slightly warmer than normal now. Already, we have seen the development of Sub Tropical Storm Andrea, between the Bahamas and Bermuda. Could there be further increased chances for development north of the Bahamas and near and east of Bermuda this year? Time will tell…

Of course, it only takes a single system to wreak havoc, no matter how many may form in a season. WRI's Dolphin Online includes the Tropical Tracker which includes 4x daily advisories, expected tracks, and a meteorologist's input. We provide customized alerts to vessels that are onboard and are available 24/7 to keep you informed of any threats.

Sea surface temperature anomalies across the Atlantic. Note how the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and points east are near to slightly cooler than normal on average. But north of the Caribbean across much of the Central and W’rn Atlantic temperature anomalies are slightly above normal.
Mike Headshot
Indian Ocean HRA Revision
By: Mike Stockwell, Senior Meteorologist/Asst. Operations Manager

As of 1 May 2019, the High Risk Area (HRA) in the Indian Ocean has been changed to reflect the latest threat of piracy in the region of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Arabian Sea. The Round Table of international shipping associations plus the OCIMF representing the global shipping and oil industry have agreed to a reduction of the geographical boundaries of the HRA. This is also referred to as the BIMCO 5th edition or "BMP5".

The new coordinates of the High Risk Area are:
  • In the Southern Red Sea: Northern Limit: Latitude 15-00N

  • In the Indian Ocean:

  • From the territorial waters off coast of east Africa at Latitude 05-00S east to 050-00E

  • Then to positions:
  • Lat: 00-00N Long: 055-00E
  • Lat: 10-00N Long: 060-00E
  • Lat: 14-00N Long: 060-00E
  • Then a bearing 310˚ to the territorial waters of the Arabian Peninsula (off Central Oman)
Insurance documents and charter party clauses will continue to dictate which HRA that the vessel must comply with. Below is a map of the current and most recent areas:


The HRA forms only a part of the area called the Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA). The VRA (shown in the above image) extends east to 78E and to the coastal waters (within 12NM) of Western India and north to along Northern Pakistan. The Joint War Committee Zone (JWC) covers an additional risk area as determined by representatives of both the Lloyd's and IUA company markets. This includes the new HRA zone, along with remaining waters south to 12S, east to 65E, and an additional area over the Gulf of Oman/Pakistan Coast between 65E and 58E.

Shipping organizations emphasize that a serious threat remains over these waters and that accurate reporting and good communication between the captain/crew and vessel management teams remain crucial. Ships entering any area of the VRA are encouraged to report to the UKMTO, as this provides intelligence on risk levels in the area.

WRI's standard procedure is to coordinate with both the operator and master to determine the safest and fastest route, and to be in compliance with any instructions given in the charter party. We note "older" charter party clauses may reference BMP4 (2015 HRA), the JWC, or rarely the VRA. WRI's operations team is monitoring the area for any "piracy" concerns or attacks and advise particular vessels crossing the area appropriately to maintain safe passage.
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