Hazardous Seas Alert Discontinued. Dangerous Long Period Swell Event To Begin on Sunday

The Hazardous Seas Alert Discontinuation

After 8 days of rough seas, the Hazardous Seas Alert has finally been discontinued for Trinidad and Tobago as seas return to a moderate state. Waves up to 2.5 meters are still ongoing in our open waters and near 1 meter in our sheltered areas.

However, a dangerous long-period swell event is forecast to begin affecting the region, including Trinidad and Tobago, by late Saturday into early Hence, we may see another Hazardous Seas Alert issued on Saturday.

Trinidad and Tobago is NOT under any tropical storm threat, watch or warning.

Based on the latest model guidance and analysis, rough seas, due to wind-driven waves, have subsided with moderate seas continuing in Trinidad and Tobago’s waters through Sunday.

However, long-period swells are forecast to begin affecting our region by midnight Saturday into Sunday. Swell periods may range from 11-16 seconds, capable of producing large, dangerous breaking waves in bays, beaches and other nearshore areas.

Although the alert has been discontinued, beginning Sunday, battering waves in nearshore areas are forecast to continue between Sunday and Wednesday, particularly during high tide periods. Coastal flooding is also likely in low-lying coastal areas. Beach and coastal erosion are likely, particularly along Northern and eastern coastlines. Overall, there is a high risk of rip currents and large waves at beaches so disruptions to beachgoers and marine interests are expected.

Information from the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service concerning the Hazardous Seas Alert Discontinuation

“Low-level winds have weakened, improving sea conditions. Based on official reports, the sea state is now moderate, with wave heights of 2.0m to 2.5m in open waters.” according to the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service. This “alert discontinuation” status takes into account the possibility of the event occurring. This event, with moderate seas, has been 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 green. This means that there is now a negligible impact on human safety and assets are basically undamaged.

Image Credit: Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service
Green Level TTMS
Image Credit: Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service

7-Day Sea Forecast

Rough and hazardous seas began on late last Thursday as a strong high-pressure system builds across the entire region, bringing strong low-level winds between 20 to 25 knots (37-46 KM/H), and gusts to 75 KM/H.

Strong low-level winds have agitated coastal waters, predominantly eastern coastal areas of Trinidad and all coastal areas of Tobago over the last week and have finally ended.

Another short-lived rough seas event, due to long-period swells, is forecast to begin on Sunday through Wednesday 22nd January 2020.

Animation of swells forecast to move across the region from the bomb cyclone, as predicted by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) wave model (WAM). Time in UTC.

In addition, long period swells (with 11-16 second periods) are forecast to begin affecting T&T’s coastal waters, originating from the North and Northeast. These swells will mainly affect Northern, Eastern, and Western coastal waters of both islands between Sunday 19th January and Wednesday 22nd January.

Seas Forecast

Sea state forecast through the next 7 days, as rough seas (waves in excess of 2.5 meters) ended across Trinidad and Tobago. Note that rough seas and long-period swells return at the end of the weekend.

The general sea state through the next 7 days is as follows:

Friday 17th through Saturday 19th January 2020: Moderate, with waves up to 2.5 meters throughout the period. Winds will be between 10-15 knots from the east to northeast. In sheltered areas, waves are forecast to be near or below 1.0 meters.

Sunday 20th January 2020: Moderate to Rough, with waves generally up to 3.0 meters in open waters. However, after midnight Saturday into Sunday, long period swells are forecast to begin affecting our Northern and Eastern coasts. This is forecast to cause large breaking waves in our nearshore areas. In addition, winds are forecast to increase up to 25 knots, agitating seas in our open waters.

Monday 20th January 2020: Rough, with waves generally between up to 3.0 meters in open waters, occasionally up to 3.5 meters. In sheltered areas, near 1.0 meters, occasionally up to 1.5 and choppy. Long Period Swells to affect the region yet again. This the peak of this brief rough seas event.

Tuesday 21st January 2020: Moderate to Rough, with waves generally up to 3.0 meters in open waters. Both winds and swells are forecast to be on the decline but long-period swells continue to affect our coastal waters.

Wednesday 22nd January 2020: Moderate, with waves up to 2.5 meters throughout the day, gradually subsiding to 2.0 meters by the end of the day Long period swells will also subside by the late afternoon. Seas to return to slight to moderate conditions on Thursday, with waves between 1.5 meters to 2.0 meters in open waters.

Approximate high tides for Port of Spain, Trinidad, and Scarborough, Tobago are seen below. Low-lying coastal areas may experience coastal flooding, particularly 30 minutes prior and 30 minutes after when peak high tides occur.

High Tide Forecast for Trinidad over the next 7 days.
High Tide Forecast for Tobago over the next 7 days.

Marine interests are advised to prepare for adverse sea conditions and beachgoers are advised to refrain from heading to bays and beaches beginning Sunday through Wednesday.

Impacts on T&T’s Shorelines (Sunday through Wednesday)

Impacts possible from rough seas include the following:

  • Loss of life;
  • Injuries;
  • 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:

  • Injuries;
  • Coastal erosion;
  • Localized disruptions of businesses;
  • Disruption to outdoor and sporting activities;
  • Disruption of transportation (air and especially sea) and

Wind of this strength 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 will begin on Thursday. 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 such as the South Trunk Road at Mosquito Creek, the Guayaguayare Mayaro Road at the Guayaguayare Sea Wall, and the Manzanilla-Mayaro Road. 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.

Note that for those still heading to the beaches, particularly along Eastern coastlines, a significant amount of seafoam may be whipped up due to strong winds.

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