Saturday 19 January, 2019

2019 dry season begins

The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS) has officially declared the start of the 2019 dry season, which is forecast to be a seriously dry one.

This, as the TTMS says the climatic patterns and changes in features are indicative of the region having transitioned to a much drier state. 

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The TTMS noted a high confidence (80 percent) of below normal rainfall totals until May 2019 with deficits on average of 23 percent in Trinidad and 51 percent in Tobago, and episodes of dry/hot spells as the season endures.

The conditions indicating the arrival of the dry season include: the prevalence of strong westerly upper-level winds and a strong North Atlantic Sub-Tropical High pressure system over the region.

According to the TTMS, this configuration has led to a tighter pressure gradient across the Southern Caribbean, resulting in observed gradual increase in low level wind speeds from November 2018 to present.

The intensification of the North Atlantic Sub-Tropical High pressure system has also significantly enhanced the strength of the trade wind inversion during December 2018 and into January 2019, resulting in a drier atmosphere with minimal cloud development, the TTMS added.

While this 2019 dry season is expected to see drought-like conditions, the TTMS says the country will still experience rainfall episodes.

The Met Service notes that during the month of December 2018, evidence of impactful drying had occurred and is expected to continue into this year’s dry season.

The main reason for the current dry conditions is the influence of a developing El Niño in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean. This feature has normally been associated with drier than usual dry seasons in the past for Trinidad and Tobago, the TTMS said. 

Likely impacts of the 2019 Dry Season include:

• Reduction in ground water recharge, surface water flows and rain-fed water availability.

• Increase in surface dryness as the season progresses, which enhances the potential for bush fires.

• Drier than average conditions enhance the chances for some agricultural pest and diseases to thrive.          

• Periods of excessive heat can increase the chances of heat stress on persons with heat sensitive ailments and heat exposed livestock, pets, and other animals.

Given the expected harshness of the dry season, the public is advised to conserve, store and manage water in a sustainable manner.

The public is advised against burning rubbish in grassy or forested areas during the dry season.

Citizens are further advised to keep cool as much as possible and stay hydrated.

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