Firemen and a soldier stand among branches of a fallen tree on Knox Street, Port-of-Spain, after heavy rain and winds yesterday.

Kalain Hosein

Gusty winds accompanying an isolated thunderstorm ripped off roofs and downed trees across Port-of-Spain yesterday afternoon.

Torrential rainfall accompanied the strong winds, also producing street flooding across lower Port-of-Spain extending as far east as Success, Lavantille.

According to the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government, roofs were blown off in Belmont, Picadilly Street and Sea Lots.

Along Independence Square, minor tree damage occurred as branches were blown off trees which were left scattered across the Brian Lara Promenade. Two large trees fell in Columbus Square, one falling on the Christopher Columbus Statue and another across Duncan Street, blocking the roadway. Further north, several trees also fell across Woodford Square, with one falling on an unoccupied vehicle.

Port-of-Spain South MP Keith Scotland, centre, looks at a tree which was felled during high winds on Picadilly Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
OTTO CARRINGTON

After surveying the damage, Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez called in the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment for added assitance as the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service started the process of clearing felled trees across the capital.

Martinez said he was concerned about the unusual weather which had downed trees yesterday. However, he noted that when there is inclement weather the possibility of fallen trees was high. He noted that the corporation had a tree pruning plan for the squares around the capital.

Street flooding across Port-of-Spain also brought traffic to a halt in some areas, with Edward Street and Vieira Street impassable for a period. As quickly as the water rose, it receded, but traffic along Wrightson Road, Eastern Main Road and the Priority Bus Route remained thick through the evening.

2858625
Sheets of galvanize hang on a utility pole on Piccadilly Port-of-Spain, after heavy rain and winds in the city yesterday. OTTO CARRINGTON

What caused this thunderstorm?

A combination of daytime heating and sea breeze convergence triggered yesterday’s isolated thunderstorm to develop across Northwestern Trinidad.

On days where mostly hot and sunny conditions occur, excessive heat causes air to rise and when moisture is in place, as it did yesterday, showers and thunderstorms develop. Across western areas of Trinidad, sea breezes from the west collided with prevailing winds from the east. This collision of air allowed for enhanced convergence, particularly along western coastal Trinidad.

Usually called a “freak storm,” these intense winds and rainfall are associated with normal thunderstorm activity. While yesterday’s thunderstorm was nothing out of the ordinary, a downburst likely occurred where torrential rain and strong winds were focused in one area and gusty winds moved out radially, like ripples in a puddle. This is why when forecasters warn of thunderstorms where street flooding and gusty winds are possible, citizens should be prepared.