Frequency of Tropical Cyclones in Trinidad

Bret 19 June
Infrared Satellite of Bret nearing Trinidad valid 2100UTC 19 June 2017

The second tropical storm of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, Bret, tracked unusually far south impacting the island of Trinidad. Bret is only the 6th tropical system to have tracked across Trinidad in the past 100 years. Coincidentally, the last tropical storm to make landfall over Trinidad in 1993 was named Bret.

Since 1856, 43 storms have passed within 100nm of the island, but only two of these storms were major hurricanes. Typically, Trinidad is too close to the equator to experience strong tropical systems. According to WWT Meteorological Specialist, Marshall Wickman, “most systems at that latitude don’t get the Coriolis force needed for significant intensification”. Therefore, the bulk of the stronger storms and hurricanes tend to track to the north of Trinidad and Tobago.

Major Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Flora in 1963 tracked too close for comfort. Both storms packed winds of 105 knots when within 60nm of the northern coast of the island.

For an area surrounded by water and unaccustomed to experiencing these storms, even a weak tropical storm can be frightening. 

“Trinidad experienced torrential rainfall and heavy winds for approximately three hours, especially in southern Trinidad. It was very scary and as I looked through the windows at my home, I prayed all through this period asking for protection”. 

When we checked-in with our Trinidad customers after Bret, it was heartwarming to hear that essential staff working on offshore and onshore facilities were safe. The main threats with this storm were heavy rainfall and flash flooding.

Flooding is major threat during any tropical cyclone and is not directly related to storm intensity. To learn how to stay safe during flood events, visit the National Weather Service’s flood resource page