As of 3:00 PM, floodwaters have subsided across all areas of Northern and Central Trinidad from the midday showers and thunderstorms.
Heavy showers and thunderstorms began at 10:00 AM across Trinidad, moving slowly across the country in an unusual north to northwest motion.
This light wind regime is due to Invest 95L/Tropical Wave 29 keeping light winds across the region and high atmospheric moisture. Very favorable low-level convergence is in place, in addition to a favorable atmosphere for showers and thunderstorms across Trinidad.
Because of the slow movement, and favorable conditions, heavy showers, and thunderstorms developed, and are still ongoing across parts of Trinidad.
However, parts of the East-West corridor was hardest hit by the floods, major roads along the corridor flooded or near impassable at times. The Priority Bus Route, the Eastern Main Road, and the Churchill Roosevelt Highway all at one point were underwaters.
Violent rainfall rates upwards of 150 millimeters per hour occurred along the southward facing slopes of the Northern Range. Within less than an hour, over 30 millimeters of rainfall occurred. Showers and thunderstorms persisted in the area for more than 2 hours.
In addition, gusty winds took down several trees and utility poles across Trinidad.
At 12:15 PM, in El Dorado, a large tree damaged a wall, taking down power lines and the utility pole. T&TEC was quickly on the scene, but heavy rainfall persisted.
By 1:00 PM, Orange Grove, Trincity was flooded. Floodwaters began to rise along the Churchill Roosevelt Highway, reducing it to one-lane traffic. (As of 3:00 PM, this has now subsided.)
Trinidad and Tobago has heavy showers and thunderstorms. It’s part of living in a tropical area. These heavy downpours overwhelm what drainage exists from time to time and produce street flooding. This is also a common occurrence across the East-West Corridor.
Today’s heavy showers and winds are usually categorized has “freak” storms, but really, there’s nothing freak about them.
As we’ve mentioned in our earlier forecast, showers and thunderstorms today are slow-moving and are taking advantage of favorable atmospheric conditions – which is typical of the wet season.
These “freak” storms are really thunderstorms. In addition to the winds and rain, they produce thunder and lightning. They are fairly common to Trinidad, Tobago and the vast majority of the world. In fact, there is, on average, 2000 of these storms occurring simultaneously at any given time around the globe.
In Trinidad, these thunderstorms generally occur during the late morning through the afternoon, particularly during the wet season. Anyone area in Trinidad can experience, on average, 30 to 40 thunderstorms annually. On rare occasions, as many as two to three a day in a given area.
When particular weather features traverse the region – tropical waves, tropical cyclones, surface troughs, mid- and upper-level troughs, and the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, thunderstorms can be abundant.
Thunderstorms bring most of our rainfall and nearly all of our street/flash flooding events. Torrential downpours, such as the one today, can produce upwards of 20-30 millimeters of rainfall within an hour.
Stationary thunderstorms, such as those that caused the Divali 2017 floods, can produce upwards of 100 millimeters in one to two hours. Thunderstorms can last from 30 minutes to as long as two hours, depending on the speed of low to mid-level winds. More prolonged thunderstorms begin to trigger different types of flooding – street, then flash and lastly riverine flooding.
As we progress further into the wet season and the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season, tropical waves become stronger, the ITCZ may linger across the region even more frequently and for possible prolonged periods and most importantly showers resulting from daytime heating and sea breeze convergence will become more common.
You will begin to see “street/flash flooding, gusty winds possible in heavy showers/thunderstorms” far more frequently, because activity like today, triggered by daytime heating and sea breeze convergence, is normal for the wet season.
However, reasonable criticism is that the early warning system by the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service could have been implemented today, as conditions were much more favorable for thunderstorms and generally convective activity today, compared to yesterday.