A significant coastal storm could become a tropical cyclone in the coming days, based on some data from computer forecasting models that suggests the winding storm could take on some tropical cyclone characteristics as it drifts south and west. to the southeast coast of the United States. The storm is also wreaking havoc with cruise ships traveling along the US East Coast; Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Joy were caught in rough seas last night off the Jersey Shore. Very large waves crashed into the lifeboats and into cabins with balconies as high as Deck 7.
Passengers aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, which is one of the largest cruise ships in the world, took to social media to describe their experiences when the ship entered the waters warned by Storm Warning off the Mid-Atlantic Coast. “Two of my sons and my husband threw up all night,” Maggy Khairy wrote on Facebook. Others have described being unable to stand up in their cabin. “The massive blow pissed me off,” wrote Matthew Smith. “When I looked out the balcony and damn it!” Smith joined others in wondering why they hadn’t heard more messages about the storm on board. “How come there’s no message from deck or staff about the storm?”
An intercom announcement was made on the ship’s fourth deck around 10 p.m., with crew personnel urging people to “hold on to something or someone” for safety.
The high winds and waves keep beating @RoyalCaribbean #Oasis of the seaswhere their pool deck pools experience mini-tsunamis as they head directly into a major coastal storm warned by Storm Warning off the southern New Jersey coast. #NJwx pic.twitter.com/JQNnJ3x2WN
— the Weatherboy (@theWeatherboy) May 8, 2022
The Oasis of the Seas returned safely to port in Bayonne, New Jersey early this morning. However, he plans to return to sea later this afternoon. Royal Caribbean’s chief meteorologist, James Van Fleet, said on Twitter that the coastal storm could impact the trajectory of this upcoming cruise, including the potential removal of a planned stopover at Port Canaveral in Florida.
The storm system is an unusually powerful low pressure system more common in fall and winter than in May; in addition to dropping heavy rain and whipping parts of the eastern United States with strong winds, the storm also brings down unusually cold air for this time of year.
Computer forecasts suggest the storm will slowly track south and east before drifting south. From there, later this week, the storm could drift west, affecting parts of the southeast coast. Before its rendezvous with the coast, it is possible that the system takes on the characteristics of a tropical cyclone, in particular when it moves over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Tropical storms and hurricanes aren’t completely unheard of in May, even though the Atlantic hurricane season doesn’t officially kick off until June 1.
Whether or not a tropical cyclone forms, conditions along the coast will remain harsh with high seas, beach erosion and pockets of coastal flooding. If a larger cyclone forms, these conditions could become even worse and more severe.