“Dry Season” Floods, Inclement Weather Hit Trinidad

Flooding in Enid Village, Rio Claro on May 4th, 2021 (Jason Chris Ramadhar)

Heavy rainfall and periodic strong winds affected parts of Trinidad and Tobago as forecast on Tuesday, May 4th, 2021. Flooding, fallen trees, landslides, and damaged buildings were reported across the country from as far north as the North Coast Road to as south as Radix Village, Mayaro in Trinidad, and a few areas across Tobago.

From early Tuesday morning, rainfall began across the country. In the City of Port of Spain and environs, a collapsed church was reported along Lavantille Road, East Port of Spain. According to media reports, the abandoned St Thomas Baptist Church collapsed during heavy rainfall on Tuesday morning. Residents state they have been calling for the removal of the building for years, and the deputy Port of Spain mayor and councilor for the area, Hillan Morean, stated the collapse would expedite the process.

In the San Juan/Lavantille Region, fire officials and the disaster management unit responded to a fallen tree. It downed utility lines along the North Coast Road near Fond Poix Doux Road. Motorists were stranded on the roadways for hours with the tree finally cleared late Tuesday night. Street flooding was also reported on the Eastern Main Road near Success Lavantille Secondary School.

The early morning rainfall also triggered street and flash flooding across the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation’s area of responsibility. Parts of the Penal Rock Road and Suchit Trace were inundated. In addition, a fallen tree rendered Suchit Trace impassable near Railway Road until midday when the tree was cleared.

Because of the flooding, the South-West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) has closed the Moruga Health Centre, the Williamsville Health Centre, the Penal Rock Road Health Centre, and the Tabaquite Health Centre due to rising flood waters. According to the SWRHA, normal services are expected to resume at these facilities on Wednesday May 5th, 2021.

According to the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government (MoRDLG), the Disaster Management Unit of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation also responded to a fallen tree at the Morne Coco Road and a report of a collapsed roof.

In the Tunapuna/Piarco Region, there was reports of a fallen tree in El Dorado and a landslide in Brasso Seco.

The CTTRC Disaster Management Unit presently on the field cutting and clearing a fallen tree along the Brasso / Caparo Road. Kudos to the DMU team .

Posted by Ryan Rampersad on Tuesday, May 4, 2021

In the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo region, the corporation’s Disaster Management Unit responded to a fallen tree along the Caparo Valley Brasso Road on Tuesday afternoon, quickly clearing the area.

FALLEN TREE IN FAIRHILL, MORIAH A tree fell at Fairhill, Moriah, bringing down TSTT lines. The TSTT has been notified. Motorists & pedestrians are advised to proceed with caution in this area.

Posted by TEMA (Tobago Emergency Management Agency) on Tuesday, May 4, 2021

In Tobago, there were no reports of flooding. However, a tree fell in Moriah, bringing down TSTT lines.

Flash Floods Hit Eastern Trinidad

As forecast, higher rainfall accumulations favored Eastern Trinidad, triggering more severe street/flash flooding across the Sangre Grande and Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporations’ areas of responsibility.

In Sangre Grande and environs, there were two reports of fallen trees but the majority of reports consisted of flooding. Street and flash flooding was reported in the following areas:

  • Picton Road
  • Ramdass Street
  • Railway Road
  • Cunapo
  • Cunaripo
  • Toco Main Road
  • Baker Trace
  • Foster Road
  • Adventist Street and environs
  • Coalmine
  • Guaico
  • Oropouche Main Road
  • Cunapo Southern Main Road
  • Cumuto

According to MoRDLG, 161 sandbags were distributed across the Sangre Grande region, though no roads were rendered impassable nor were any shelters required to be activated.

In the Mayaro/Rio Claro area, flooding was widespread, reported in the following areas

Biche Administrative District

  • Lassale Road
  • Martin Saza Road
  • Plum Mitan Main Road (roadway impassable)

Poole Administrative District

  • Bristol Village, Union Village
  • Grant Street, Rio Claro
  • San Pedro Road
  • Railway Road, Rio Claro
  • Latchmania Trace, Navet
  • 3rd Street, Enid Village
  • Paymar Trace
  • Lazari Road
  • Dades Extension (roadway impassable)
  • Navet Village (roadway passable)

Mayaro Administrative District

  • Gill Street
  • Lewus & Sucre
  • Teesdale Street
  • St Anns Road (East)
  • Micher Road
  • Seaview Lane, Plaisance
  • Radix Village
  • Bristol Village
  • Leasureville Road, Radix
  • Cedar grove (impassable)
  • Chrysostom Trace

According to the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation, the Plum Mitan Road, Dades Extension, Navet Village, and Cedar Grover were all rendered impassable as of Tuesday night. Thirty (30) sandbags were distributed within the area, with no shelters required to be activated.

How much rain has fallen?

Rainfall reports over the last 24 hours across Trinidad and Tobago. High rainfall totals likely occurred across Eastern Trinidad based on the widespread flood reports and were not reported due to lack of weather stations in the area.
Rainfall reports over the last 24 hours across Trinidad and Tobago. High rainfall totals likely occurred across Eastern Trinidad based on the widespread flood reports and were not reported due to lack of weather stations in the area.

Over the last 24 hours, ending at midnight Tuesday into Wednesday, Trinidad received between half an inch of rain (12.5 millimeters) up to 2.5 inches (63.5 millimeters). Higher totals likely occurred across Eastern Trinidad, where data from weather stations are sparse or non-existent. In Tobago, between half an inch of rain (12.5 millimeters) up to 1.5 inches (38.1 millimeters) fell across the island due to periodic thunderstorm activity.

These rainfall totals are in line with what was forecast. Unfortunately, more rainfall remains in the forecast not just for Wednesday but through the next five days. Additional rainfall would trigger additional street/flash flooding, but may also cause riverine flooding through the end of the week. Landslides and more fallen trees would become increasingly likely due to saturated soils.

The Forecast

The forecast has not changed for T&T, and as mentioned, will remain largely the same through Sunday.

Mostly cloudy to overcast skies are forecast throughout the day, interrupted by intermittent periods of rain and scattered showers across the country. During the mid-morning and late afternoon, partly cloudy skies are possible. During the late morning through the early afternoon, showers can become heavy to violent, with thunderstorm activity favoring Trinidad but possible across both islands. Conditions will generally settle into the night, with isolated showers and light rain possible.

Chances for heavy to violent showers and thunderstorm activity were highest on Tuesday and will be again Friday into Saturday. In addition, gusty winds are more likely from Friday through the weekend.

The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service has extended the Adverse Weather Alert through 6:00 PM Wednesday 5th May 2021.

Is T&T in the Wet Season?

Contrary to what the atmosphere is doing (and forecast to do for the next 5 days), Trinidad and Tobago is still in the Dry Season. To trigger the start of the Wet Season, a tropical wave or the ITCZ need to move across the country. To date, there have been no tropical waves that have moved off the African Coast, with none in the near forecast, and the ITCZ remains just off the northern coast of Brazil.

The surface and upper-atmosphere structure of the MJO for a period when the enhanced convective phase (thunderstorm cloud) is centered across the Indian Ocean and the suppressed convective phase is centered over the west-central Pacific Ocean. Horizontal arrows pointing left represent wind departures from average that are easterly, and arrows pointing right represent wind departures from average that are westerly. The entire system shifts eastward over time, eventually circling the globe and returning to its point of origin. Climate.gov drawing by Fiona Martin.
The surface and upper-atmosphere structure of the MJO for a period when the enhanced convective phase (thunderstorm cloud) is centered across the Indian Ocean and the suppressed convective phase is centered over the west-central Pacific Ocean. Horizontal arrows pointing left represent wind departures from average that are easterly, and arrows pointing right represent wind departures from average that are westerly. The entire system shifts eastward over time, eventually circling the globe and returning to its point of origin. Climate.gov drawing by Fiona Martin.

The main contributor to the ongoing wet spell is a large atmosphere pulse called the Madden Julien Oscillation (MJO). The MJO is an eastward moving disturbance of clouds, rainfall, winds, and pressure that traverses the planet in the tropics and returns to its initial starting point in 30 to 60 days, on average. The MJO consists of two parts, or phases: one is the enhanced rainfall (or convective) phase and the other is the suppressed rainfall phase.

Presently, and at least through the weekend, this convective phase will persist, allowing for wet weather for T&T. Come next week and the following week, dry weather is slated to return to the islands as the suppressed rainfall phase becomes dominant.

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