The 2021 Dry Season is forecast to be wetter than average for Trinidad and Tobago, breaking from the last two dry seasons where harsh, dry conditions occurred.
According to the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS), the main driver for these wetter than average conditions will be a moderate to strong La Niña in the Pacific Ocean.
La Niña is the cool phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and usually brings more rainfall to Trinidad and Tobago. This La Niña event is forecast to peak between December through February, with La Niña conditions continuing through April 2021.
Above Average Rainfall Expected
While a wetter than usual December through January is forecast, as well as an overall wetter than average dry season, the TTMS is still advising that long, sunny spells will still occur, as is typical for the dry season at large. However, with La Niña conditions, suppression of excessive dryness is likely.
However, the TTMS is advising that above-average rainfall in the dry season does not mean substantial rainfall during the season. In an average dry season, the number of dry days (days with less than 1.0 millimetres of rain recorded) is 109, but for 2021, the TTMS forecasts 90 dry days.
In a typical dry season, Trinidad records 434 millimetres on average; across Tobago, 344 millimetres are recorded. Overall, the country receives 412 millimetres on average during the dry season.
For the 2021 Dry Season, rainfall totals between 425 to 920 millimetres are likely. While March is usually the dry season’s driest month, the TTMS is forecasting April 2021 to be the driest month for the season.
During the second half of the dry season, the TTMS also forecasts moderately enhanced chances for wetter than usual conditions from March to May, with above-average rainfall totals most likely.
Warm Temperatures Expected In 2021
In the age of climate change and global warming, our forecast temperatures continue to reflect warmer than average day and night temperatures, likely during the dry season. According to the TTMS, temperatures are likely to peak near 34°C during April and May, with one or two short-duration hot spells during those months. In their seasonal temperature outlook, the TTMS also is forecasting one or two very cold nights during January and February, where minimum temperatures drop below 20°C.
What Can We Expect?
While these above-average rainfall totals will be welcome for the farming community, it also can elevate the risk of flooding for some flood-prone areas, including farmland. Flooding and ponding of water may enhance opportunities for mosquito breeding and risk of dengue incidence. Wetter than usual conditions may subdue—but not eliminate—the risk of bush and forest fires.
The TTMS is advising the public and the government to continue to keep water channels clear. Although these wetter than average conditions are forecast, water is a precious resource, and water conservation practices should be maintained, with water being stored and managed safely.
While rainfall may reduce the risk of fires, the Met Service also urges that contingency plans to mitigate bush, landfill, and forest fires should be escalated.