Trinidad And Tobago: Weather Overview
About Trinidad And Tobago
- Capital: Port of Spain
- Area: 5,128km2
- Population: 1,047,000
- Currency: Dollar (TTD)
About Trinidad And Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago have typical tropical climates with high temperatures and plenty of rain. There is little regional or seasonal variation in temperature due to the islandsâ location near the equator, their small size and the surrounding Caribbean Sea. However, there is great variation, both seasonal and regional, in rainfall. Neither island is ever without rain for long, but the year can definitely be split into a wet season and a dry season. Rainfall tends to be higher in the north and eastern regions of the islands, and on the mountains, due to the northeast direction of the prevailing trade winds. Just south of the hurricane belt, Trinidad and Tobago are usually safe from direct hits by these tropical cyclones, but this is not guaranteed; Tobago has been hit twice in the last fifty years. While hurricanes usually pass these islands by, their proximity can lead to severe storms with high winds, flash flooding and un-navigable seas. The hurricane season lasts from June till November, peaking in August and September.
The islands are the southernmost of the Lesser Antilles, a group of volcanic islands that curve up from the Venezuelan coast of South America, joining onto the Greater Antilles of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Cuba which skirts below the southern tip of Florida and points towards the Yucatan Peninsula of southern Mexico. The islands sit in the Caribbean Sea with the North Atlantic to their East. Trinidad is the larger of the two islands and closest to Venezuela. Smaller Tobago sits slightly to the northeast. Both islands have ranges of hills going from east to west and flat plains, but the northern end of Trinidad is home to the Northern Range: mountains that are actually part of the Andes that lie across the north of South America and follow its western coast right down to its southern tip. These mountains play a large part in the variation of regional rainfall on the islands.
The wet season, from June till December, receives regular storms and high humidity. Tropical storms are short but heavy with dark clouds dumping huge quantities of rain in violent outbursts before quickly clearing away. If particularly heavy, flash flooding can occur, especially in urban areas, but for the most part, the dense rainforest is well adapted to receiving these vast volumes of water. The vast majority of the area's rain falls in the wet season. Annually, the eastern regions of the Northern Range receive over 3,500 mm of rain while the western coasts receive under 1,500 mm. Temperatures are very high, around 30°C, and made uncomfortable by the high humidity, usually around eighty-five per cent. Night time temperatures are cooler but do not feel much better as the humidity often increases further. Port-of-Spain on the western side of northern Trinidad sees an average high of 31°C throughout the season. On the southern side of Tobago, Scarborough sees an average high of 30°C. Tobago is slightly cooler than Trinidad due to its more easterly position, further towards the North Atlantic. It is also generally cooler higher up in the mountains.
The northeast trades are generally reliable as a source of relief, but areas south of the hills and mountains are often deprived of this. The north and eastern coasts receive much more wind than the southwest coasts; the Atlantic is generally more tumultuous than the Caribbean; so the windward coasts are more rugged and often cooler than those on the Caribbean side. Some good surf spots are to be found on the northern shores of the islands. Though the islands do pump a lot of raw sewage out to sea, the water is less polluted than around islands that have been more heavily developed and the comparatively clean sea is great for marine life. Very fragile habitats including thriving coral and nesting sites for endangered turtles are not far from the shore. The sharks to be found in the area are usually nursing sharks and unlikely to wield a formidable bite. As hurricane season develops storms can become dangerous. Wind can be so fast that it damages trees and even buildings, and the sea can become too rough to cross.
The dry season, from January till May, is really very similar to the wet season, just, as might be expected, a lot drier. Rain is still quite frequent though showers are slightly lighter and shorter. However, in central Trinidad drought conditions often prevail, as any rain carried on the northeast trades drops on the Northern Range before it reaches interior regions. This is the best time to visit the islands as not only is rain reduced to a sporadic inconvenience, but the sun comes out for longer, the temperature is slightly lower and humidity also drops. This, of course, means prices are higher and the beaches are more crowded. The temperature drops only by a couple of degrees but the difference is felt due to the coinciding drop in humidity, but it rises again just before the wet season. In Port-of-Spain, the average high drops to 30°C, but then gets back up to 31°C in March and peaks at 32°C in April and May. In Scarborough, the average high drops to 29°C then creeps back up to a peak of 31°C in May. The increasing heat ushers back the humidity and the wet season begins.
Unlike the other Caribbean Islands, Trinidad and Tobago do not rely on tourism for their main source of income. Instead, their main industry is petroleum. Tourism is still an important earner and the islands have their fair share of sprawling mega-resorts. The detrimental effects of these industries are well-documented but Trinidad and Tobago seem to be aware of the problem; John Agard and Roger Pulwarty of Trinidad and Tobago were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts towards improving awareness of climate change in 2007.