After days of monitoring an active tropical wave east of Trinidad and Tobago, the National Hurricane Center upgraded the tropical disturbance, Invest 97L to Potential Tropical Cyclone Five on Wednesday afternoon. This system is forecast to track west-northwest, staying north of Trinidad and Tobago, and move across the Windward Islands as a tropical storm called Elsa.
The National Hurricane Center began using “Potential Tropical Cyclone” designations in 2017, referring to a disturbance that has not yet become a tropical cyclone but poses the threat of bringing tropical storm or hurricane conditions to land areas within 48 hours.
This allows the National Hurricane Center to issue advisories, watches, and warnings in conjunction with local governments and meteorological services to issue advisories, watches, and warnings in anticipation of tropical cyclone impacts.
Tropical storm watches are in effect for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, and Martinique.
A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
The National Hurricane Center is forecasting the system passing near or over portions of the Windward Islands or the southern Leeward Islands on Friday, move into the eastern Caribbean Sea late Friday and Friday night.
Forecasters expect 75 to 150 millimeters of rainfall, with isolated totals up to 200 millimeters across the Windward and Southern Leeward Islands, including Barbados through Friday. These heavy rainfall totals could trigger street and flash flooding, mudslides, and in the case of St. Vincent, lahars as ash from La Soufriere’s eruption in April is remobilised.
In addition, tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch areas on Friday, which will also agitate seas in the region.
The T&T Meteorological Service issued a statement yesterday afternoon, underscoring that Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada, and its dependencies are not under direct threat from this system at this time.
Still, the official forecast through the next 72 hours for Trinidad and Tobago calls for mostly cloudy to overcast skies, with periods of rain and showers with isolated thunderstorms.
The T&T Meteorological Service will continue to monitor this system closely and update at 6 am todayt, or earlier if the situation warrants.