Satellite imaging showing the formation of Tropical Storm Gonzalo in the Atlantic. (Image courtesy National Hurricane Centre)

Tropical Storm Gonzalo formed over 2,000 kilometres southeast of Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday morning. Gonzalo has now broken the record for being the 7th earliest named storm formation in the Atlantic Basin since Gert on July 24th, 2005.

Presently, Tropical Storm Gonzalo has sustained winds of 85 KM/H, moving toward the west-northwest at 22 KM/H.

Gonzalo is forecast to become a hurricane by Thursday, but on its approach to T&T, it is expected to weaken to a strong tropical storm.

The centre of this storm is forecast to remain north of Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday, with sustained winds up to 110 KM/H and gusts up to 140 KM/H. This system is still three days away, and with compact tropical cyclones like Gonzalo, rapid fluctuations in intensity, both up and down, are possible.

Forecast tracking map showing the possible path of Tropical Storm Gonzalo over the next few days. (Image courtesy National Hurricane Centre)

It is too soon to tell definitive impacts to T&T. However, given the forecast strength and proximity to Tobago on Saturday, tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rainfall is possible for that island, while impacts across Trinidad may be limited to the northern half of the island.

There are no alerts, watches or warnings in effect from the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS) at this time.

Tropical storm watches may be issued 48 hours in advance if tropical-storm-force winds are possible, while tropical storm warnings would be issued 36 hours ahead of expected tropical-storm-force winds.

Given that strongest winds are forecast to remain north of T&T, citizens are advised that they should not wait until a watch or warning is issued. You should continue to monitor updates from official and trusted sources. The Barbados Meteorological Service already has signalled the possibility of tropical storm advisories being issued for that island, later tonight.

If you live in a flood-prone area, it is always recommended to prepare sandbags and ensure watercourses and guttering on your property are cleared. In addition, secure loose objects outdoors and trim larger trees. You can request assistance from your local city, borough, or regional corporation.

If your roof is not secured, consider securing your roof with hurricane straps. A hurricane strap costs between $8 to $10. It takes about 50 straps to secure the roof of an average three-bedroom house. Most straps are available in your neighbourhood hardware and are made with galvanized steel.