For the last few weeks, it seemed as though the sun was living in Trinidad and Tobago as it was so hot. One might even forget that we are in the middle of the rainy/wet season. A period that is as the name suggests very rainy and wet.
There have been many theories floating around social media from climate change to secret US Government weather experiments gone rogue. The reason is actually a combination of Petit Carême and El Niño.
What is Petit Carême?
“Petit Carême” or “Indian Summer” refers to unusually dry and sunny weather during the wet season, typically in September or early October.
It is essentially a term used to describe a temporary break in the rainy weather, similar to a dry spell. This term is region-specific, predominantly Trinidad and Tobago and is used informally to describe such weather patterns.
What is El Niño?
The El Niño phenomenon, often referred to simply as “El Niño”, is a climate pattern characterised by the periodic warming of sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
This warming can have significant and far-reaching impacts on weather and climate patterns around the world. El Niño is part of the larger climate phenomenon known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which includes both El Niño (the warm phase) and La Niña (the cold phase).
Warming of Pacific Ocean waters
During an El Niño, there is a significant increase in sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. This warming can disrupt normal weather patterns.
The warming of ocean waters leads to changes in atmospheric circulation patterns. Specifically, the trade winds that typically blow from east to west across the tropical Pacific weaken or reverse direction during an El Niño event.
Global climate impact
El Niño has widespread effects on global climate patterns. These impacts include altered precipitation patterns, temperature anomalies, and extreme weather events in various regions. Some common impacts include:
Droughts: Some regions, such as parts of Australia, Indonesia, and the western coast of South America, often experience drought conditions during El Niño events due to reduced rainfall.
Flooding: Other areas, like the western coast of South America and the southern United States, can experience increased rainfall and flooding during El Niño events.
Hurricanes and cyclones: El Niño can influence the frequency and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. It tends to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity while increasing the likelihood of storms in the central and eastern Pacific.
Wildfires: Regions that typically experience wetter conditions may become more susceptible to wildfires during El Niño, as the dry spells can create favourable conditions for fires.
Impacts on agriculture: El Niño can disrupt agriculture by causing crop failures, affecting fisheries, and leading to food shortages in some areas.
The combination of Petit Carême and El Niño
What is currently happening in Trinidad and Tobago typically experiences Petit Carême, which is a period of dry and sunny weather during the wet season.
Trinidad and Tobago is located in an area that can be influenced by El Niño events since El Niño affects global weather patterns. Here is what you can expect for the next 2 weeks:
During Petit Carême, the region will experience a temporary break in the rainy weather, resulting in drier conditions for a few weeks. This already contributes to a drier-than-average period.
El Niño impact
When an El Niño event that occurs during or coincides with Petit Carême can exacerbate the dry conditions. El Niño often leads to reduced rainfall and drought in many parts of the world. In this scenario, El Niño might intensify the dryness experienced during Petit Carême.
El Niño events can also influence temperature patterns. In the region, higher temperatures may accompany reduced rainfall, potentially leading to heatwaves and evaporation of water sources.
Agricultural and ecological impact
The combination of Petit Carême and El Niño could have adverse effects on agriculture, water resources, and ecosystems in the region. Reduced rainfall and increased temperatures can stress crops, lead to water shortages, and impact natural habitats.
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What can you do to beat the heat?
Beating the heat is essential to stay comfortable and safe during hot weather, especially during heatwaves. Here are some tips and strategies to help individuals stay cool and healthy when temperatures rise:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Dehydration can sneak up on you during hot weather.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-coloured clothing to help your body stay cool. Avoid dark colours, as they can absorb heat.
Use sun protection
- Wear sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to shield your face and eyes from the sun.
- Stay in the shade whenever possible, especially during the hottest parts of the day.
Limit outdoor activities
- If possible, avoid strenuous outdoor activities during the hottest hours (usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.). If you must be outside, take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors.
Use fans and air conditioning
- If available, use fans or air conditioning to cool down indoor spaces. Make sure your air conditioning is in good working condition before the hot weather arrives.
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Take cool showers or baths
- A cool shower or bath can help lower your body temperature and provide relief from the heat.
- Monitor weather forecasts and heat advisories. Be aware of any heat warnings or alerts in your area.
Use cooling products
- Consider using cooling towels, neck wraps, or personal fans to help you stay cool.
Keep curtains and blinds closed
- Close curtains and blinds during the hottest part of the day to block out direct sunlight and reduce indoor temperatures.
- Check on family members, friends, and neighbours, especially those who are vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, such as the elderly, young children, and individuals with certain medical conditions.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Both alcohol and caffeine can contribute to dehydration, so it’s best to limit your consumption during hot weather.
- Opt for lighter, more refreshing meals that don’t require cooking or heating up the kitchen.
Use water-soaked items
- Place a damp washcloth on your forehead or use a spray bottle to mist your face with water for quick cooling.
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Be cautious with pets
- Ensure that your pets have access to shady areas, water, and a cool place to rest. Never leave them in a parked car during hot weather.
Know the signs of heat-related illnesses
- Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, and seek medical attention if you or someone else experiences these symptoms.
Remember that extreme heat can be dangerous, leading to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
It’s essential to take heat seriously and take preventive measures to stay cool and hydrated during hot weather.
If you or someone you know shows signs of heat-related illness, seek medical assistance promptly.
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Hot Spell Warning #1 – YELLOW LEVEL Hot Spell
Issuance time (local time) – Fri, Sep 15, 2023 10:07 AM
Start date (local time) – Fri, Sep 15, 2023 10:20 AM
End date (local time) – Fri, Sep 29, 2023 5:00 PM
Headline Hot Spell Warning #1-YELLOW LEVEL
The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service is warning of extremely hot conditions predominantly over Trinidad and Tobago from September 15 to the 29, 2023.
There is a high (80%) probability that temperatures near 34.0 °C or greater are expected to continue roughly over the next two weeks across Trinidad. Warm-to-hot conditions near 32.5 °C or greater are expected to occur across Tobago.
In cities, urban and built-up areas, the maximum temperatures are expected to be high (near to or greater than 34.0 °C) and feel-like temperatures particularly when the winds are calm to light will likely range between 34.0 °C and 44.0 °C.
The hottest time of the day is between 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. High temperatures can be hazardous to health, especially to the elderly, sick adults, and young children. Therefore, a proactive approach to lessen the effects of hot spell conditions should be adopted.
Climatic conditions: Trinidad and Tobago is in its heat season, which runs from May to October. In general, during September months, the islands experience mostly hot sunny periods and warm nights.
The winds are generally weak but with occasionally moderate strength coming from the east to southeast with wind speeds of 20-30km/h.
Present climatic conditions: During this September, there are many climatic features working together to promote warmer to hotter days. The winds are calm to light, with fewer cloudy periods which enables greater incoming solar radiation, particularly during the mid-morning to afternoon periods.
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These climatic features are:
- A moderately strong El Nino which generally restricts cloud development;
- A negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) which encourages weak winds across the Caribbean;
- A warmer than usual Atlantic Ocean Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) east of the Trinidad and Tobago;
- The apparent local position of the sun at our latitude; 5. The southeasterly flow of wind from the equatorial region.
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Wear appropriate clothing, stay hydrated at all times, and keep out of direct sunlight to avoid sunburn. Open appropriate windows, vents and doors in your homes to ventilate at times. Please visit metoffice.gov.tt and odpm.gov.tt for additional information.
Area description – Trinidad and Tobago
Courtesy: Trinidad & Tobago Meteorological Service
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