The Hazardous Seas Alert
As anticipated, low-level winds are increasing across the Southern Windwards, including Trinidad and Tobago. These winds are forecast to agitate seas mainly in our eastern and northern coastal waters.
The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service issued a Hazardous Seas Alert (Yellow Level) for our coastal waters beginning at 8:00 PM Sunday 14th February 2021 through 2:00 PM Thursday 18th February 2021.
Trinidad and Tobago is NOT under any tropical storm threat, watch or warning.
Information from the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service concerning the Hazardous Seas Alert in effect from 8:00 PM Sunday through 2:00 PM Thursday.
“Strong low-level winds are expected to agitate sea conditions, mainly around North and East Trinidad and Tobago. Waves are expected to reach heights between 2.5 m and 3.0 m in open waters. Sea conditions in sheltered areas will be choppy at times.” 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 property damage.
Seas Forecast For Trinidad
In sheltered areas, seas are forecast to remain near 1 meter generally and choppy at times, up to 1.5 meters between Sunday and Monday. However, long-period swells will continue to affect mainly northern and eastern coastlines throughout the week, causing larger waves in Trinidad’s nearshore areas.
Peak swells are forecast to occur between Wednesday and Thursday, with swell periods between 10 and 16 seconds. Throughout the week, 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 25 knots from the northeast, gusting up to 30 knots, particularly Sunday into Monday. Wind speeds are forecast to remain between 10 knots to 20 knots outside of this period, generally gusting to 25 knots.
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 through the upcoming week, with waves at times up to 3.0 meters in Trinidad’s coastal waters particularly Sunday into Monday. Generally, open waters east and north of Trinidad will be the most agitated.
Large open water swells can be hazardous to some vessels. Operation of smaller vessels can be difficult at times due to large swells. Small craft operators may experience difficulty operating throughout the week in open waters.
Seas Forecast For Tobago
Similar to the above forecast, northerly to northeasterly swells are forecast to predominantly affect northern and eastern coastlines.
In open waters, rough seas are forecast Monday through Wednesday as peak winds up to 30 knots occur, from the northeast causing waves up to 3.0 meters, at times up to 3.5 meters. Sunday and the latter half of the upcoming week, moderate to rough seas are forecast in Tobago’s open waters with waves between 2.0 meters and 3.0 meters.
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.