The Hazardous Seas Alert
The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service has issued the Hazardous Seas Alert for coastlines of Trinidad and Tobago, including all coastal waters of Tobago and Northern, Eastern and Southeastern Coasts of Trinidad. The alert went into effect at 6:00 AM Tuesday 17th December 2019 through 10:00 AM Friday 20th, 2019. This is in line with much of the global wave modeling, though rough seas may continue throughout Friday.
Trinidad and Tobago is NOT under any tropical storm threat, watch or warning.
Based on the latest model guidance and analysis, strong low-level winds are affecting the entire Caribbean Basin due to a strong pressure gradient, resulting from a high-pressure system in the North Atlantic.
Winds across Trinidad and Tobago have generally ranged between 25 KM/H to 40 KM/H and gusts to 50 KM/H. Similar conditions are ongoing across the Lesser Antilles, with winds gusting up to and in excess of 60 KM/H.
These strong low-level winds are producing waves in open waters between 2.5 and 3.5 meters across the Lesser Antilles. Specifically for Trinidad and Tobago, rough seas are forecast to predominantly be between 2.5 and 3 meters according to the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service, though models show Northeastern Tobago experiencing waves between 3.0 and 3.5 meters.
Large waves and dangerous rip currents will create unsafe conditions for small-craft operators, particularly in areas under the Hazardous Seas Alert. These conditions may become even more adverse at times of high tides. Sea-bathers are also advised to stay out of the water.
Information from the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service concerning the Hazardous Seas Alert for December 17th-20th, 2019
“Strong low-level winds are expected to agitate sea conditions with waves forecast to reach up to 3.0 m in open waters. Rough sea conditions are expected to reach the exposed shorelines around 6 AM 17th December 2019. ” according to the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service. This “alert” status takes into account the possibility of the event occurring. This hazardous seas 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.
The Takeaway: Based on the latest model guidance and analysis, moderate to rough seas are forecast to continue through the remainder of the week. A Hazardous Seas Alert is now in effect until 10:00 AM Friday.
During high tide periods, large breaking waves may cause coastal flooding across Northern and Eastern coasts of both islands, with abundant sea foam impacting beaches and bays. Dangerous conditions are present for small crafts. Dangerous rip currents are also present.
In Trinidad, breezy conditions with winds between 25-45 KM/H possible, and gusts up to 60 KM/H. Rough seas will favor Northeastern coasts, with moderate to rough seas across Northern and eastern coastlines. Elsewhere, slight to moderate seas exist, but choppy.
In Tobago, moderate seas will continue across all coasts, with rough seas favoring Northern and Atlantic-facing coasts. Northeastern Tobago may see waves exceed 3.0 meters at times through Friday.
Impacts on T&T’s Shorelines
Impacts possible from hazardous 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
- Vehicular accidents and financial losses.
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 take place on Tuesday. The highest seas will take place in the Atlantic waters of the islands.
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 surfs can knock spectators off exposed rocks and jetties. Breaking waves may occasionally impact harbors making navigating the harbor channel dangerous.