Rough seas are forecast to begin later this week as a strong high-pressure system is forecast to build across the entire region, bringing strong low-level winds between 20 to 25 knots (37-46 KM/H) and gusts to 60 KM/H.
Strong low-level winds will agitate coastal waters, predominantly eastern coastal areas of Trinidad and all coastal areas of Tobago Thursday through Monday of next week.
In addition, long period swells (with 11-15 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 Wednesday 8th January and Monday 13th January, possibly extending into next week.
The general sea state through the next 7 days is as follows:
Tuesday 7th January 2020: Slight to Moderate. Increasing low-level winds between 10-20 knots, predominantly from the east, are forecast to begin building seas across the region. Waves in open waters up to 1.5 meters and near calm to 1.0 meter in sheltered areas.
Thursday 9th January 2020: Moderate to occasionally rough, with waves up to 2.5 meters throughout the day, nearing 3.0 meters by nightfall. Long-period northerly swells are forecast to persist. Winds will be between 20-25 knots from the east to northeast. In sheltered areas, waves are forecast to be near 1.0 meters, occasionally reaching 1.5 meters and choppy. Spring Tides ongoing.
Friday 10th to Saturday 11th 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 ongoing. This is the initial peak of this rough seas event.
Sunday 12th January 2020: Moderate to occasionally rough, with waves up to 2.5 meters throughout the day, nearing 3.0 meters by nightfall. Long-period northerly swells are forecast to persist. Winds will be between 20-25 knots from the east to northeast. In sheltered areas, waves are forecast to be near 1.0 meters, occasionally reaching 1.5 meters and choppy. Spring Tides ongoing.
Monday 13th 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 ongoing. This is the secondary peak of this rough seas event.
Both the effects of long-period swells and rough seas due to strong low-level winds will be amplified by the effect of Spring Tides as Full Moon will occur on the Friday 10th January 2020 and a Lunar Perigee (moon closest to Earth) will occur on Saturday 11th January 2020.
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.
As of 2:00 PM Tuesday 7th January 2020, there are no alerts, watches or warnings in effect from the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service, but this may change as conditions deteriorate later this week. Marine interests are advised to prepare for adverse sea conditions and beachgoers are advised to refrain from heading to bays and beaches beginning late Thursday.
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
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.