The 2019 Dry Season Has Begun

The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS) is officially declaring the start of the 2019 Dry Season according to a press release issued at 3:30 PM Thursday 10th January 2019:

The climatic patterns and changes in features indicate that the region has transitioned to a much drier state.

An assessment of the criteria necessary for the onset of the Dry Season shows that the conditions have been met and are now entrenched. These conditions include, among other factors, the prevalence of strong westerly upper-level winds and a strong North Atlantic Sub-Tropical High-pressure system over our region. This configuration has led to a tighter pressure gradient across the Southern Caribbean, resulting in an observed gradual increase in the low-level wind speeds from November 2018 to the present. The intensification of the North Atlantic Sub-Tropical High-pressure system has also significantly enhanced the strength of the trade wind inversion during the past month of December 2018 and into the new year, January 2019, resulting in a drier atmosphere with minimal cloud development.

The Dry Season is never without rainfall; therefore, the country can expect to see rainfall episodes occurring but not with the frequency and quantity of the transition months or the wet season. In December 2018, evidence of impactful drying had happened and is expected to continue into this year’s dry season. The primary reason for these dry conditions is the influence of a developing El Niño in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean. This feature has typically been associated with drier than usual dry seasons in the past for Trinidad and Tobago.

Global and Regional Climate models agree with anticipated drier than usual conditions over the region for January to May 2019. There is high confidence (80%) of below-normal rainfall totals over the period, with deficits on average of 23% in Trinidad and 51% in Tobago. There may also be episodes of dry/hot spells as the dry season endures.

Likely impacts of the 2019 Dry Season include:

  • Reduction in groundwater recharge, surface water flows, and rain-fed water availability.
  • An increase in surface dryness as the season progresses enhances the potential for bush fires.
  • Drier than average conditions enhance the chances for some agricultural pests and diseases to thrive.
  • Periods of excessive heat can increase the chances of heat stress on persons with heat-sensitive ailments and heat-exposed livestock, pets, and other animals.

In light of the preceding, the public is advised to conserve, store and manage water sustainably. Citizens are advised to keep cool as much as possible and stay hydrated. It is also highly recommended for the public to refrain from burning rubbish in grassy or forested areas during the dry season. Relevant agencies and ministries are advised to take measures to mitigate the potential impacts of the current Dry Season.

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