The Hazardous Seas Alert
Low-level winds are forecast to remain at elevated levels across the Southern Windwards through the week, maintaining rough seas across our eastern coastal waters.
In addition, long-period swells continue to affect T&T’s northern and eastern coastlines, as well as sheltered areas. Swells will gradually subside through Thursday, returning yet again this weekend. However, spring tides have subsided across the region.
The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service has updated and extended their Hazardous Seas Alert (Yellow Level) for our coastal waters beginning at 2:00 AM Sunday 31st January 2021 now through 12:00 PM Friday 5th February 2021.
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 9-13 seconds are forecast through Thursday night, increasing to 9-15 seconds from Friday through the weekend. Swell periods between 9 and 11 seconds have been observed.
These swells may be 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 2.0 meters, depending on the bathymetry of the area.
In sheltered areas, areas are forecast to be near 1 to 1.5 meters and choppy through the week. Larger than usual waves will also affect sheltered coastlines of the Gulf of Paria due to long period swells.
Coinciding with this swell event would be strong low-level winds, continuing through the week. While peak winds occurred Saturday night into Monday morning, another surge of winds is forecast on Thursday. These winds will agitate seas, with waves averaging 2.5 to 3.0 meters, at times up to 3.5 meters in open waters.
Information from the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service concerning the Hazardous Seas Alert in effect from 2:00 AM Sunday through 12:00 PM Friday.
“Reports from official sources have confirmed occasionally rough sea conditions with wave heights between 2.5m and 3.0m in open waters. Some improvement in sea conditions will be noticed over the next 24 hours, however, conditions are again expected to become rough on Thursday 4th.” according to the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service. This “alert” status takes into account the possibility of the event occurring. This event is observed.
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 has been observed 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 rough seas 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
Winds could make some outdoor activities uncomfortable, if not outright dangerous. High winds can create dangerous fallen or blowing objects.
The strongest winds and the highest and most dangerous seas are forecast to begin next week. The highest seas will take place in the Atlantic waters of the islands.
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. Bays and beaches may become inundated.
Coral reefs may experience increased stress and damages, in addition to localized beach erosion, particularly in areas where battering waves focus.