Long Period Swells, Occasionally Rough Seas Affect T&T

Large, battering waves at Store Bay, Tobago during a long-period swell event on October 28th, 2019.

Generally, moderate to occasionally rough seas are forecast to continue through Thursday as a strong high-pressure system weakens in the North Atlantic. Still, moderate to occasionally strong low-level winds are forecast 15-20 knots (30-40 KM/H) and gusts to 60 KM/H.

These low-level winds will agitate coastal waters, predominantly eastern coastal areas of Trinidad and all coastal areas of Tobago throughout the week.

In addition, long period swells, with swell periods between 11 and 20 seconds, are affecting northern and eastern coasts of Trinidad and Tobago through late Thursday. These swells are producing large, battering waves and dangerous rip currents in nearshore areas.

Long period swells are already affecting coastal areas of Tobago and Northern Trinidad.

Spring tides are forecast to begin on Saturday through Tuesday. Spring tides mean higher than usual high tides and lower than usual low tides, a normal occurrence during the lunar cycle.

Seas Forecast

Sea state forecast through the next 7 days, as moderate, to occasionally rough seas (waves in excess of 2.5 meters) occur across Trinidad and Tobago.
Sea state forecast through the next 7 days, as moderate, to occasionally rough seas (waves in excess of 2.5 meters) occur across Trinidad and Tobago.

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

Wednesday 19th to Thursday 20th February 2020: Moderate to occasionally Rough. Low-level winds between 15-20 knots, predominantly from the east to northeast, are forecast to affect seas across the region. Across Eastern and Northern Trinidad as well as all offshore areas of Tobago except Eastern Tobago, waves in open waters up are forecast to be up to 2.5 meters, while offshore waters east of Tobago may occasionally exceed 2.5 meters at times. In sheltered areas, waves are forecast to be near 1.0 meter and choppy at times. Long period swells will produce larger than usual waves in nearshore areas of northern and eastern coasts of T&T.

Friday 21st February 2020: Moderate. Low-level winds between 15-20 knots, predominantly from the east. Across Eastern and Northern Trinidad as well as all offshore areas of Tobago except Eastern Tobago, waves in open waters up are forecast to be up to 2.5 meters. In sheltered areas, waves are forecast to be near 1.0 meter.

Saturday 22nd to Sunday 23rd February 2020: Slight to Moderate, with waves generally between 1.5 and 2.0 meters in open waters. In sheltered areas, near or below 1.0 meters. Winds are forecast to decrease to 10-15 knots from the east. Spring tides are forecast to begin.

Monday 24th to Tuesday 25th February 2020: Moderate, with waves generally between 1.7 and 2.3 meters in open waters. In sheltered areas, near or below 1.0 meters. Winds are forecast to increase to 15 knots from the east to northeast. Spring tides ongoing

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 between Sunday and Tuesday.

High Tide Forecast for Trinidad over the next 7 days as spring tides and moderate to occasionally rough seas forecast.
High Tide Forecast for Trinidad over the next 7 days as spring tides and moderate to occasionally rough seas forecast.
High Tide Forecast for Tobago over the next 7 days as spring tides and moderate to occasionally rough seas forecast.
High Tide Forecast for Tobago over the next 7 days as spring tides and moderate to occasionally rough seas forecast.

As of 3:00 PM Wednesday 19th February 2020, there are no alerts, watches or warnings in effect from the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service, as seas remain below yellow-alert-level criteria.

Impacts on T&T’s Shorelines

With seas occasionally rough, the following impacts are possible:

  • Loss of life or injuries due to inexperienced mariners operating small craft in open waters;
  • Elevated risk of rip currents in eastern coastal areas.

Other impacts, apart from hazardous seas, include:

  • Minor coastal flooding in low-lying areas;
  • Disruption of transportation along low-lying coastal roadways.

Winds between 30-50 KM/H could make some outdoor activities uncomfortable. High winds can create dangerous fallen or blowing objects, particularly during gusts accompanying showers.

There is a moderate 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.

Saltwater may 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.

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