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 the media and other stakeholders.
The Met Office’s senior meteorologist Kaidar Kissoon said the atmosphere had changed from last year when the country and region were 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 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, sea-surface temperatures remained above average and were forecast to strengthen.
“There is a moderate – 62 per cent – probability that El Niño conditions will take effect within the May-July period of 2023.”
The climate pattern tended to influence unfavourable conditions for cloud development and rainfall over TT, Benjamin said.
Using predictions 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, four-eight and one-three for storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.
He said these two predictions indicated a “very slightly below-normal season” and was “looking to a near-normal season.”
The Met Office predicted the most likely number of named storms for TT was two-six, two hurricanes with a range of one-three.