Hazardous Seas Alert In Effect As Strong Winds, Spring Tides Affect T&T

The Hazardous Seas Alert

Low-level winds have increased across the Southern Windwards through the overnight Saturday into Sunday causing rough seas across our eastern coastal waters.

In addition, long-period swells are affecting T&T’s northern and eastern coastlines through Tuesday, coinciding with peak winds.

Lastly, spring tides are also ongoing, with higher than usual high tides and lower than usual low tides. Spring Tides begun on January 9th and are forecast to continue through January 15th.

The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service issued a Hazardous Seas Alert (Yellow Level) for our coastal waters beginning at 12:00 AM Sunday 10th January 2021 through 11:00 PM Wednesday 13th January 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 8-15 seconds beginning Saturday night through Tuesday night. Swell periods between 8-10 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.

Coinciding with this swell event would be strong low-level winds, beginning Saturday night through much of the upcoming week, but peak winds are forecast Saturday night into Monday morning. These winds will agitate seas, with waves averaging 2.5 meters, at times up to 3.0 meters in open waters.

In sheltered areas, areas are forecast to be near 1 meter and choppy over the weekend through much of the upcoming week.

Information from the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service concerning the Hazardous Seas Alert in effect from 12:00 AM Sunday through 11:00 PM Wednesday.

“Strong low-level winds are expected to agitate sea conditions, mainly around North and East Trinidad and Tobago. Waves are expected to reach heights of between 2.5 m and 3.0 m in open waters and near 1.0 m in sheltered areas. This event will also coincide with spring tide which can further exacerbate conditions.” 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.

Image Credit: Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service

Seas Forecast For Trinidad

Sea state forecast through the next 7 days, as moderate to occasionally rough seas are forecast, with long-period swells affecting the island. Note that sheltered areas include bays, beaches, and generally the Gulf of Paria and western areas of the Columbus Channel. Open waters are the Atlantic Ocean (Eastern Trinidad), the Eastern Columbus Channel (Southern Trinidad), and the Caribbean Sea (north of Trinidad).
Sea state forecast through the next 7 days, as moderate to occasionally rough seas are forecast, with long-period swells affecting the island. Note that sheltered areas include bays, beaches, and generally the Gulf of Paria and western areas of the Columbus Channel. Open waters are the Atlantic Ocean (Eastern Trinidad), the Eastern Columbus Channel (Southern Trinidad), and the Caribbean Sea (north of Trinidad).

In sheltered areas, seas are forecast to remain below 1 meter generally and choppy at times. However, long-period swells will continue to affect mainly northern and eastern coastlines Saturday night through Tuesday, causing larger waves in Trinidad’s nearshore areas.

Peak swells are forecast to occur between on Saturday night through Monday morning, with swell periods between 8 and 15 seconds. Large, breaking waves may exceed the 1-meter mark along Northern and Eastern coastlines, up to 2.0 meters in nearshore areas.

Winds are forecast to be fresh to strong, with winds up to 20 knots from the northeast, gusting to 25 knots through the entirety of the upcoming week.

In open waters, as winds increase across the region, seas will remain moderate to occasionally rough, with waves generally up to 2.5 meters as indicated above during the weekend. Generally, open waters east and north of Trinidad will be the most agitated.

Seas Forecast For Tobago

Sea state forecast through the next 7 days, as moderate to rough seas are forecast, with long-period swells affecting the island. Note that sheltered areas include bays, beaches, and generally western coasts of Tobago. Open waters are the Atlantic Ocean (Eastern Tobago) and the Caribbean Sea (west of Tobago).

Similar to the above forecast, northerly to northeasterly swells are forecast to predominantly affect northern and eastern coastlines.

Impacts on T&T’s Shorelines

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

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.

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