October 18th – Hottest Day In Trinidad For 2020

Light winds, mostly sunny skies (at the start of today) and sufficient moisture led to today being the hottest day for 2020 across Trinidad, based on temperatures recorded at Piarco. This is the climate reference site for Trinidad, while across Tobago, the climate reference station is at Crown Point.

The maximum high temperature recorded at Piarco International Airport, the highest temperature recorded for the year to date at Piarco. Data: Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service.
The maximum high temperature recorded at Piarco International Airport, the highest temperature recorded for the year to date at Piarco. Data: Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service.

On Sunday, across most of the country, temperatures between ranged between 33.0°C and 35.0°C, with some areas between 35.0°C and 38.0°C, mainly across Trinidad. In urban areas and areas where development is prevalent, temperatures trended higher.

Maximum high temperatures recorded across Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday 18th October 2020. Data: Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service.
Maximum high temperatures recorded across Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday 18th October 2020. Data: Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service.

Elevated but decreasing moisture was present across T&T, causing the heat index to be high, in the dangerous category across much of Central and Northern Trinidad, while across Southern Trinidad and parts of Tobago, extreme caution was needed.

Maximum Heat Indices Across Trinidad and Tobago, with most of the "feels like" temperatures in the dangerous category.
Maximum Heat Indices Across Trinidad and Tobago, with most of the “feels like” temperatures in the dangerous category.

The maximum recorded temperature occurred at the Piarco International Airport, came in at a scorching 35.5°C, recorded by the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service. Since this is the official temperature monitoring station for T&T’s records, this marks the hottest temperature for the year to date, beating the previous highest maximum temperature at Piarco on September 26th.

Trinidad's Highest Temperatures for 2020 To Date (2020-10-18)
Trinidad’s Highest Temperatures for 2020 To Date (2020-10-18)

Temperatures in cities, such as Port of Spain, tend to be much higher than surrounding locations due to a phenomenon called the Urban Heat Island Effect. There are several causes, but the main instigator for this phenomenon tends to be increased dark surfaces such as roads and pavement in cities, which absorb solar radiation more than surrounding areas.

Where do these temps stand compared to our records? The hottest recorded in Trinidad, based on data from the Global Historical Climatology Network (pre-1980) and the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (1980-2019) stands at 37.8°C recorded on April 20th, 1946 at Wallerfield.

At Piarco International Airport, where the new official records began, the hottest temperature for the year was recorded on September 25th, 1990, at 36.5°C.

Hot Temperatures Forecast To Continue

Across both islands, hot conditions are forecast over the next 4 days. The maximum high for Trinidad is forecast to be near 35.0°C, up to 38.0°C in urban and built-up areas, particularly between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM. In Tobago, the maximum high is forecast to be near 33.0°C.

Temperatures in cities, such as Port of Spain, tend to be much higher than surrounding locations due to a phenomenon called the Urban Heat Island Effect. There are several causes, but the main instigator for this phenomenon tends to be increased dark surfaces such as roads and pavement in cities, which absorb solar radiation more than surrounding areas.

The Heat Index

The heat index will be between levels that require extreme caution to near dangerous levels through Wednesday across Trinidad and Tobago. The heat index and is a combination of air temperature and relative humidity, determining what the air feels like to a person, i.e., how hot it actually feels.

Across Trinidad, the maximum heat index is forecast to be between 35°C and 45°C and even higher in urbanized areas. In Tobago, the maximum heat index is forecast to be between 35°C and 42°C.

The heat index is important because of sweating. Your body sweats to cool the skin and maintain a constant, healthy body temperature. This cooling process means that the sweat has to evaporate off the skin to remove heat. However, if the sweat is unable to evaporate, the body isn’t able to regulate temperature.

 Heat Index Values Explained
Heat Index Values Explained

Heat Safety

Graphic: Beat the Heat. Heat related deaths are preventable.

Graphic: Beat the Heat. Heat related deaths are preventable.

Source: MEMA
Heat Safety Tips and Resources
Heat Safety Graphic. Source: Heat Safety Tips and Resources

Is this a heatwave?

Not yet.

Currently, the forecast maximum high temperature is forecast to be near 35.0°C in Trinidad and 33.0°C in Tobago. If the forecast temperatures materialize over the next two days, this could be classified as a short-duration heat spell across Trinidad.

For a hot spell to be declared in Trinidad and Tobago by the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service, a period of hot temperatures, characterized by maximum temperatures of at least 34.0°C in Trinidad and 32.0°C in Tobago, lasting five or more consecutive days. A short-duration hot-spell is three or more consecutive hot days.

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