File photo – This lady shelters the rain with her umbrella while walking on Independence Square, Port of Spain. – Ayanna Kinsale
THE country might be spared extreme weather events – and the ensuing major flooding – this year as the Meteorological Services (Met) Office is predicting a normal rainy season starting from June. This is also due to the likelihood of El Niño.
El Niño refers to a warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures, in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, the US Geological Survey website says.
The office revealed its predictions at the Climate Outlook Presentation and Panel Discussion on National Response. It was held at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management’s (ODPM) alternate national emergency operations centre, Pineapple Drive, Mausica. The ODPM, the Met Office, Tobago Emergency Management Agency and Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government jointly addressed members of the media and other stakeholders. The Met Office’s senior meteorologist Kaidar Kissoon said the atmosphere changed from last year when the country and region was under a La Niña watch. Kissoon said the potential for extreme events was still there but the probability was less this year because of El Nino.
The Met Office’s meteorologist Gary Benjamin took the members of the audience including media through what people could expect as the rainy season is set to begin in June.
Benjamin said there was an El Niño watch in the central/eastern equatorial Pacific and over the last month, seas surface temperatures remained above average and was forecast to strengthen.
“There is a moderate 62 per cent probability that El Niño conditions will take effect within May to July period of 2023.”
The climate pattern tended to influence unfavourable conditions for cloud development and rainfall over TT, Benjamin said.
Using predications for the hurricane season from Colorado State University and American media company Accuweather, Benjamin said Colorado State predicted 13 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes for this year. Accuweather predicated 11-15, 4-8 and 1-3 for storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.
He said these two predications indicated a “very slightly below normal season” and was “looking to a near normal season.”
The Met Office predicated the most likely number of named storms being formed in TT was 2-6, 2 hurricanes with a range of 1-3.