[UPDATED] Gonzalo warning lifted for Trinidad and Tobago, storm fizzles to tropical depression

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Tropical Storm Gonzalo has been downgraded to a tropical depression, as the effects of the system has already passed Tobago, the Met Office said in its 2 pm advisory on Saturday.

It lifted the orange alert and placed it on green which means there is no longer a threat of severe weather. Tobago was uncer a tropical storm warning, and Trinidad was on alert for bad weather.

Although storm conditions are no longer expected, the Met Office said showers are still likely.

“Lingering moisture and instability may still produce a few showers and the odd thunderstorm,” it said, and advised the public to remain vigilant.

At a news conference at midday on Saturday, Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) director Allan Stewart was confident the worst of Gonzalo was over.

“We are very pleased to report to you that based on the situation as it is at this time, we feel very strong that the worst has passed us and, therefore, we can see things getting back to normalcy very soon,” he told reporters.

However, he urged Tobagonians to be careful.

“I do want to be very cautious here in that we may not be totally out of the woods. But I will say that we seem to the king of this wood so far in that we will walk away as the true lions of the forest.”

Stewart said TEMA received just two reports, which he considered minor.

A tree fell on a health facility at Les Coteaux and a roof was also dislodged at a bus shed in Argyle.

Stewart said 12 people had accessed accommodation at several of the ten shelters which were activated to assist distressed citizens..

Early on Saturday morning, Tobago and Trinidad began to feel the effects of Gonzalo with the onset of thundershowers as the islands were on orange level alert.

The advisories led at least one political party – the UNC – to cancel campaigning and the Emperor Valley Zoo in Trinidad was closed. Several supermarkets and businesses closed in Tobago. Caribbean Airlines cancelled 26 flights for the weekend on the Tobago airbridge.

As of 8 am Gonzalo, although a weak system, triggered heavy rains, thunder and powerful gusts across Tobago.

Tobagonians, for the most part, were in their homes, having stocked up on basic food items, candles and other commodities on Friday.

The traffic at gas stations in Carnbee, Scarborough and Bon Accord was reduced significantly on Saturday.

In an earlier interview, Stewart said two people were in shelters.

“So far, we only have two persons occupying shelters and that is in the Betsy’s Hope area,” he told Newsday.

“If people recognised that their homes are at risk they will take shelters, so two persons have decided to take shelter.

“But we do not have any major reports at this time, just people with situations that need attention. So we are dealing with those.”

Stewart said TEMA has received requests from people for supplies while others were concerned about threatening trees and flooding.

Meanwhile, Viewport supermarket closed all of its locations.

In a notice, the supermarket said it was monitoring the progress of the storm and decided to close all of its locations to ensure the safety of its staff and customers.

MovieTowne, Lowlands, and the Pigeon Point Heritage Park also did not open for business.

Also, in a release on Saturday morning, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) urged the public to “remain vigilant” and prepare for the effects of Gonzalo in Tobago and in north and east Trinidad. The ODPM said the public should expect heavy rainfall, thunderstorm activity, strong gusty winds and rough seas conditions.

“This system has so far proven to be a very unpredictable. Notwithstanding this unpredictability, based on the MET Service forecast, it appears that Trinidad and Tobago can expect very heavy rainfall. As such, the ODPM is urging all persons to fully prepare themselves and secure their possessions. The entire Trinidad and Tobago is asked to be ready for this passing weather system.”

Coastal and offshore waters around Tobago and the north and eastern coastlines of of Trinidad, as well as sheltered area, were under a hazardous seas alert. The conditions were expected to persist into Sunday.

This story has been updated with additional details. Below is the original story that was published earlier.

Tobago and Trinidad have begun to feel the effects of Tropical Storm Gonzalo with the onset of thundershowers as the islands are on orange level alert for bad weather.

The advisories have led at least one political party – the UNC – to cancel campaigning and the Emperor Valley Zoo in Trinidad has been closed on Saturday. Several supermarkets and businesses also closed in Tobago.

Tobago is under a tropical storm warning, and as of 8 am Gonzalo, although a weak system, made landfall, triggering heavy rains, thunder and powerful gusts across the island.

Tobagonians, for the most part, were in their homes, having stocked up on basic food items, candles and other commodities on Friday.

The traffic at gas stations in Carnbee, Scarborough and Bon Accord reduced significantly on Saturday.

Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) director Allan Stewart said some ten shelters were activated to assist affected citizens.

“So far, we only have two persons occupying shelters and that is in the Betsy’s Hope area,” he told Newsday.

“If people recognised that their homes are at risk they will take shelters, so two persons have decided to take shelter.

“But we do not have any major reports at this time, just people with situations that need attention. So, we are dealing with those.”

Stewart said TEMA has received requests from people for supplies while others were concerned about threatening trees and flooding.

Meanwhile, Viewport supermarket closed all of its locations.

In a notice, the supermarket said it was monitoring the progress of the storm and decided to close all of its locations to ensure the safety of its staff and customers.

MovieTowne, Lowlands, and the Pigeon Point Heritage Park also did not open for business.

In Trinidad, the advisory is for bad weather associated with the passage of the storm.

The Met Office said there is a high chance (70 per cent) chance of heavy showers or thunderstorms during the period, which may lead to street/flash flooding as well as landslides/landslips in areas so prone. Gusty winds in excess of 65km/h can also be experienced in the vicinity of heavy downpours.

Also, in a release on Saturday morning, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) urged the public to “remain vigilant” and prepare for the effects of Gonzalo in Tobago and in north and east Trinidad. The ODPM said the public should expect heavy rainfall, thunderstorm activity, strong gusty winds and rough seas conditions.

“This system has so far proven to be a very unpredictable. Notwithstanding this unpredictability, based on the MET Service forecast, it appears that Trinidad and Tobago can expect very heavy rainfall. As such, the ODPM is urging all persons to fully prepare themselves and secure their possessions. The entire Trinidad and Tobago is asked to be ready for this passing weather system.”

Coastal and offshore waters around Tobago and the north and eastern coastlines of of Trinidad, as well as sheltered area, are under a hazardous seas alert. The conditions are expected to persist into Sunday.

People living in low-lying areas, near river banks, or living /working in flood prone or landslip prone areas should be “be extra vigilant and to take the necessary precautions to preserve life and property,” said the ODPM.

It also advised the public to contact the nearest regional corporation for sandbags and other assistance if necessary.

The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) has also been activated to coordinate response and relief efforts. The agencies include Disaster Management Units of the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government, the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), the Ministry of Works and Transport, the various divisions of the Ministry of National Security, a number of private sector agencies and NGOs.

The post [UPDATED] Gonzalo warning lifted for Trinidad and Tobago, storm fizzles to tropical depression appeared first on Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

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