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Outlook for 2020’s dry season

With the blink of an eye, we are in the final week of January 2020, and it seems that only yesterday was New Year’s Day.

As usual, the start of January initiated the dry season. There are many concerns and precautions to be addressed as we approach the next few months of the year.

T&T is a tropical island rich in biodiversity, and we need to ensure that we understand, conserve and educate others on the impacts of climate change and how it can affect our everyday lives.

Just look at the ongoing environmental disaster caused by the Australian bushfires: acres of land scorched, and a reported one billion animals dead with some species now close to extinction.

Our dry season ends June 30 which leaves us with five months of harsh, dry weather conditions and unpredictable rainfall.

According to the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (MET Office), the 2019 wet season gave less rainfall than expected. However, January to March 2020 is expected to have rainfall which will contribute to only 8–14 per cent of the annual rainfall for the year.

The outlook also predicts a 50–60 per cent chance for minimum of three seven-day dry spells during January to March (i.e. seven days with no rainfall). The report further explains that areas in northeastern Trinidad (Sangre Grande, North Oropouche etc) are likely to receive the largest accumulated rainfalls whereas northwestern and southwestern areas (Port of Spain, Chatham etc)  are likely to receive the least rainfall during January to March.

Primary impacts of this year’s dry season include high humidity levels and increased drying of weeds, bush, grass and some forest plants resulting in the high occurrence of bush and forest fires (late February into March) and reduced air quality derived from the fires.

Further predictions include water shortages, extremely humid days and nights and respiratory ailments arising from poor air quality. It is advised that you conserve, store and manage water adequately. If you do not own any water storage tanks, now will be an excellent time to invest in one or many.

If you have not started as yet, it is not too late to start taking precautions.

In addition to purchasing your tank for water storage, ensure you have an extra supply of bottled water for drinking purposes in your home.

Manage your water storage tanks carefully as these can be ideal mosquito breeding areas. For your gardens, you can purchase or make your own water feeders to install in your plant pots or garden beds to ensure that your plants do not wilt as a result of heat stress.

Farmers, consider planting more drought-tolerant crops such as sweet potatoes in your open fields. Invest in irrigation tubing so that your field can be easily watered. The digging of a pond in your garden will be an asset to you.

For your livestock and small ruminants, ensure that they avoid heat stress by keeping them hydrated and having proper ventilation and shade in their pens.

It is also very important to ensure that you stay well hydrated. Keep a bottle of water with you especially if you are always on the go. You can invest in one of the water bottles with a built in filter by the nozzle so that you can fill water anywhere and still have the bottled water taste. Walk with your umbrella if the sun is very hot outdoors.

Let’s not forget our pets! Pet parents, please make sure your fur babies are kept in shaded areas. For very fluffy dogs/cats, trim their coats so that they keep cool at all times.

Remember to also share water conservation tips with your family and friends and listen to all weather and water level updates from the relevant authorities.

Send questions to rayannaboodram@hotmail.com