Storms and Hurricanes

What are storms and hurricanes?

In the Caribbean, there are two seasons,

  1. Dry Season
  2. Wet/Hurricane season. The wet season typically goes from the period of June to December, while the hurricane season peaks between August to October.

During the wet season there is generally an increase in rainfall due to some atmospheric disturbances such as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and Tropical Waves) which can cause adverse weather leading to strong winds, thunder or lightning.

Four phases of development: 

–     Tropical Disturbance 

A weather system which gives rise to a specific area of cloudiness with embedded showers and thunderstorms. 

–     Tropical Depression 

A tropical cyclone system with definite counter-clockwise wind circulation with maximum sustained winds of less than 38 mph (61 km/h). At this stage, the system is given a number.  

–     Tropical Storm 

A tropical cyclone system, with maximum sustained surface winds greater than 38 mph (61km/h), but less than 74 mph (119 km/h). At this stage, the system is given a name.  


A tropical cyclone with speed greater than 74 mph (119 km/h) the weather system is now better organised and the eye is well defined.   

Types of Advisories:  

Tropical Depression Advisory

Provides information on the development and threat of a Tropical Depression, which becomes a threat to land. The system is not named unless it is a hurricane or tropical storm, which has been down-graded to a Tropical Depression. However, each new tropical depression is assigned a number. 

Tropical Storm Advisory

Issued when the wind speed of a tropical cyclone reaches 39 mph (63 km/h) or higher. Tropical Storms are given names.  

Tropical Storm Watch 

An announcement for a specific area that a tropical storm or an incipient tropical storm condition poses a possible threat within 48 hours. 

Tropical Storm Warning 

A warning for tropical storm conditions, including possible sustained winds within a specified range of 63-118 km/hr is expected in specified areas within 36 hours or less. 

Hurricane Watch 

Advisory issued for a particular area when conditions are favourable for the development of a hurricane. It does not necessarily mean that a hurricane is imminent. Hurricane watches will be issued when hurricane conditions are possible along the coast within 48 hours. 

A watch lets you know that weather conditions are favourable for a hazard to occur. It means “be alert”  

Hurricane Watch follows an announcement for a specific area that a hurricane or developing hurricane condition poses a possible threat within 48 hours.   

Hurricane Warning 

Issued when hurricane conditions are expected to affect a particular area within 36 hours.  

A warning requires immediate action. This typically means a weather hazard is pending – it is either occurring or it is about to occur at any moment. Both watches and warnings are important, but warnings are more urgent. 

Hurricane Warning- A warning that one or both of the following dangerous effects of a hurricane is expected in a specified area in 36 hours or less: 

-Winds 119 km/hr (74 mph) (64 knots) or higher

-Dangerously high water or a combination of high waters and waves. 

Before, During and After a Storm and Hurricane

What to Do Before a Storm and Hurricane


What to do during a Storm and Hurricane


What to do after a Storm and Hurricane


●        Develop an Family Emergency Plan, which would include a communication plan.

●        Stay indoors

●        Do not wade or play in floodwaters which can contain dangerous debris like broken glass, metal, dead animals, sewage, gasoline, oil and downed power lines.

●        Know your emergency shelters. Contact the Disaster Management Units under the respective Municipal Corporations for further information

●        Go to an established safe room. This room should have your emergency supplies and all items you and your family may need for at least 72 hours or 3 days

●        Call the Trinidad & Tobago Fire Service, your Municipal Corporation or utility companies immediately to report downed power lines, broken gas lines, water mains or any other dangerous situation that you come across.

●        Fill & pre-position sandbags if you live in a flood-prone area

●        Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.

●        Watch for fallen trees, tree limbs, weakened roads and bridges that could collapse unexpectedly.

●        Stock up on emergency supplies to last at least 3-7 days 

●        Continue listening to the radio for the latest information and updates.

●        Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.

●        Ensure that you have at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle, in the event that you need to evacuate

●        Don’t walk, swim or drive through floodwater

●        Listen to local officials for updated information and special instructions


●        Keep trees  around your home trimmed well before a storm to prevent damage from broken branches.

●        If caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.

●        Wear a face mask especially when communicating with first responders to protect them as well as yourself from COVID-19. Wash hands often or use an alcohol based hand sanitiser and clean commonly touched surfaces.


●        Clear loose and clogged gutters and drainage.

●        Don’t go outside to see “What the wind feels like”as you may be struck by flying debris.

●        Let friends and family know that you’re safe.

●        Bring loose items indoors e.g. outdoor furniture, tools etc. Secure objects that you would not be able to bring inside due to limited space e.g. water barrels, ladders etc. 

●        Don’t allow children to play in or near flood water.

●        Stay alert for extended rainfall.

●        Pre-cut plywood to secure windows and doors as strong winds would easily shatter windows. Tape is not a suitable tool to secure windows or prevent them from breaking.

●        Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic garbage bags and shovels in reach.

●        If going outside, wear appropriate protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, rubber boots, and masks to protect you from debris and airborne particles, e.g., mould and dust

●        Safely secure roofs. Homes can be retrofitted with hurricane straps which can be found at local hardware stores. 


●        Do not use wet electrical equipment

●        If you have to shelter at home, establish a safe room in your home. Find a safe area for example an interior, reinforced room with little or np windows such as a closet or bathroom or get to higher ground, for example a second floor where available. This room should have your emergency supplies and all other items your family will need for at least 72 hours. 



●        When in doubt, throw it out – Throw out any food including canned items that were not maintained at a proper temperature or have been exposed to floodwaters. Do not eat food from a flooded garden.



●        Avoid drinking tap water until you know it is safe. If uncertain, boil or purify it first.



●        Know your emergency Shelters. Contact the Disaster Management Units under the respective Municipal Corporations for further information:



-Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries 

-First aid kit 

-Non-perishable (canned food) and water 

-Non-electric can opener or knife

-Essential medicines 

-Cash in small denominations 

-Sturdy shoes such as sneakers or boots. 

-Extra Face-Masks

-Hand Sanitizer 


●        Clean and disinfect everything that got wet by flood waters. Mud left from flood water can contain sewage, bacteria and chemicals.




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