Hurricane Lorenzo’s Swells, King Tides Trigger Hazardous Seas Alert

The Hazardous Seas Alert

The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service has issued a Hazardous Seas Alert for Northern and Sheltered Coastlines of Trinidad and Tobago. The alert went into effect at 4:00 PM Friday, hours after coastal flooding and large battering waves began affecting T&T. The alert remains in effect through 10:00 AM on Tuesday 1st October 2019.

Trinidad and Tobago is NOT under any tropical storm threat, watch or warning.

Based on the latest model guidance and analysis, although the alert remains in effect through Tuesday, long period swells are forecast to subside by Sunday night and the peak King Tides are forecast to subside by Monday.

Generally, battering waves in nearshore areas are forecast to continue through Sunday, particularly during high tide periods. Coastal flooding is also likely in low-lying coastal areas, particularly along the Mosquito Creek, which will be enhanced by King Tide activity. Beach and coastal erosion are likely, particularly along Northern and sheltered coastlines. Overall, there is a high risk of rip currents and large waves at beaches through Sunday, so disruptions to beachgoers and marine interests are expected.

Information from the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service concerning the Hazardous Seas Alert for September 27th to October 1st, 2019.

“Long-period north-easterly swells generated by Hurricane Lorenzo are expected to affect northern and sheltered NEARSHORE coastal areas. Effects will be in the form of occasional battering waves which can lead to localized disruption to sea bathing and other nearshore coastal activities. Localized beach erosion is also possible. Effects will be exacerbated at high tide as spring tides are in effect.” 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, although effects have already been observed over the last 24-36 hours.

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 possible 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
Image Credit: Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service

Sea Conditions Next 72 Hours

The Takeaway: Based on the latest model guidance and analysis, although the alert remains in effect through Tuesday, long period swells are forecast to subside by Sunday night and the peak King Tides are forecast to subside by Monday. A Hazardous Seas Alert in effect.

During high tide periods, as noted below, coastal flooding is likely along Mosqutio Creek. Peak swells occurred Friday 27th to Saturday 28th September from Hurricane Lorenzo. Swells will continue into Sunday night.

Peak King Tides occurs from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th September, but elevated tides will continue into Monday 30th September.

Long period swells crashing over the Mosquito Creek Sea Wall, San Fernando, Southwestern Trinidad at 3:30 PM Friday 27th September 2019

Approximate high tides for Trinidad are seen below. Mosquito Creek can expect coastal flooding during these times, particularly 30 minutes prior and 30 minutes after when peak high tides occur.

High Tide Forecast for Trinidad over the next 4 days as the Hazardous Seas Alert remains in effect through 10 AM Tuesday.
High Tide Forecast for Trinidad over the next 4 days as the Hazardous Seas Alert remains in effect through 10 AM Tuesday.

There was a confluence of events that made yesterday’s flooding across Mosquito Creek particularly bad. Firstly, yesterday was the beginning of the peak of King Tides, which result in some of the highest high tides and lowest low tides for the year. At 3:15 PM to 3:30 PM, this high tide was ongoing. This was before the Hazardous Seas Alert was issued.

Long period swells crashing over the Mosquito Creek Sea Wall, San Fernando, Southwestern Trinidad at 3:15 PM Friday 27th September 2019

In addition, long period swells began affecting Trinidad and Tobago Thursday night and continuing on Friday. This will continue through Sunday night. Swells carry more energy than waves, which translate into large, battering waves in nearshore areas, like Mosquito Creek. These swells brought ocean water across the Mosquito Creek sea wall and onto the roadway. This will be the case throughout the weekend.

Funnel Cloud at Tarouba, San Fernando, Southwestern Trinidad at 3:45 PM Friday 27th September 2019

Lastly, heavy showers developed across coastal southwestern Trinidad yesterday afternoon, even producing a funnel cloud at Tarouba, San Fernando. These showers moved out to sea, but the winds from these showers also produced wind-driven waves towards the western shores of Trinidad, aiding in water overtopping the Mosquito Creek sea wall.

Hazardous seas were also reported in San Fernando, with larger than usual waves battering jetties in the area.

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