The Hazardous Seas Alert
A high-energy long-period swell event is forecast to affect Trinidad and Tobago beginning late Tuesday night through Thursday afternoon.
The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service has now issued a Hazardous Seas Alert (Yellow Level) for our coastal waters beginning at 11:00 AM Tuesday 8th December 2020 through 5:00 PM Thursday 10th December 2020.
Less severe long period swells may continue through Friday into early Saturday, so mariners and sea bathers will need to continue exercising caution past the end of the alert.
Since winds are forecast to remain moderate, seas will generally remain the same, with conditions in open waters near 2.0 meters.
Trinidad and Tobago is NOT under any tropical storm threat, watch or warning.
Based on the latest model guidance and analysis, swell periods may range from 10-19 seconds, capable of producing large, dangerous breaking waves in bays, beaches, and other nearshore areas. This means that wave heights in bays and beaches may reach up to 3.0 meters, depending on the bathymetry of the area.
Battering waves in nearshore areas are forecast between Tuesday and Thursday, particularly during high tide periods. Coastal flooding is also likely in low-lying coastal areas. Beach and coastal erosion are likely. Overall, there is a high risk of rip currents and large waves at beaches so disruptions to beachgoers and marine interests are expected. Note that although the alert from the TTMS is not in effect for the Gulf of Paria and eastern coastlines of Trinidad, these areas may also experience battering waves.
Information from the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service concerning the Hazardous Seas Alert in effect from 11 PM Tuesday through 5 PM Thursday.
“North-easterly high energy swells are expected to impact nearshore areas along coastlines of Tobago and Northern coastlines of Trinidad. These swells can result in higher surfs and occasional battering waves.” according to the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service. This “alert” status takes into account the possibility of the event occurring. This event is likely.
The color of the alert indicates the severity of the event and the probability of the event occurring. Currently, the alert level is at Yellow. This means that the hazard is likely and you need to be aware of the impacts of hazardous seas in your area. Moderate impacts are expected, so there is the chance of possible injuries and persons would need to take action to ensure safety. There may be minor damage to property.
Impacts on T&T’s Shorelines
Impacts possible from large, battering waves include the following:
- Loss of life;
- Sea search and rescue disruptions;
- Disruptions to sea transportation;
- Scarcity of seafood;
- Damage or loss of boats and fishing equipment;
- Disruptions to marine recreation and businesses
- Economic losses.
Other impacts from the high winds, apart from hazardous seas, include:
- Coastal erosion;
- Localized disruptions of businesses;
- Disruption to outdoor and sporting activities;
- Disruption of transportation (air and especially sea) and
There is also the potential for loss of life. There is a high risk of rip currents, strong currents that can carry even the strongest swimmers out to sea.
Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from the shore, which occur most often at low spots or breaks in the sandbar and near structures such as groins, jetties, and piers. If caught in a rip current, relax and float. Don’t swim against the current. If able, swim in a direction following the shoreline. If unable to escape, face the shore and call or wave for help.
There is also the potential for injuries to beachgoers; beach closures; localized disruptions to marine recreation and businesses and financial losses.
High tides combined with onshore wind and swell actions could result in localized coastal flooding and beach erosion.
High surfs can knock spectators off exposed rocks and jetties. Breaking waves may occasionally impact harbors making navigating the harbor channel dangerous.
Saltwater will likely splash onto low-lying coastal roads.
Coral reefs may experience increased stress and damages, in addition to localized beach erosion, particularly in areas where battering waves focus.