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February third driest in T&T since 1946
Last month was the third driest on record since 1946. In a telephone interview yesterday, climatologist at the T&T Meteorological Service Kenneth Kurr said a total of 6.1mm of rainfall was recorded at Piarco last month, ranking it the third driest February since the Met Office began keeping records. The driest February on record saw a total of 2.1mm in Piarco in 2010. In 1960, T&T recorded its second driest February, with 4.7mm of rainfall.
Kurr said while last month could be considered a "dry spell," people should desist from saying T&T was experiencing a drought or drought-like conditions. He said although last month was particularly dry, the country would have to experience rainfall deficiency for a prolonged period before it could be considered a drought.
Last January, 89mm of rainfall was recorded in Piarco, a figure which Kurr said was 25 per cent above average. Similarly, 83.4mm of rainfall was recorded at Crown Point in Tobago. With the dry season lasting from January to May, Kurr said: “When we look at the dry season thus far, the mean for that two-month period is 48mm of rainfall, which is fairly normal.”
He said while March is usually the driest month of the year, the Met Office expects near-normal rainfall at its Piarco and Crown Point stations. Since the month began, no rainfall has been recorded at Piarco and only 0.3mm has been recorded at Crown Point.
Head of corporate communications at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) Ellen Lewis said yesterday the authority’s current water storage levels were in line with long-term averages. She said WASA draws 60 per cent of its total daily production from surface water sources which were affected significantly during the dry season.
The current lake height at the Hollis Reservoir is 77.2 per cent while the long term average is 75.7 per cent. Figures at the Navet Dam show a lake height of 86 per cent and a long term average of 77 per cent. Lewis urged citizens to practise sensible water-use habits adding: "The goal of sustaining supplies over the course of the dry season does not reside solely with the authority but rather is a collective responsibility," she said.
This year’s dry season has also sparked concern about the prevalence of forest fires. At the launch of the Forestry Division’s Forest Fire Prevention Programme last week, Chief Fire Officer Nayar Rampersad said there had been 486 bush fires since December 1, with 388 reported calls for bush fires last month alone.
Though Rampersad is out of the country, the T&T Guardian spoke to firefighter Darryl Chandler of the Fire Prevention Section who said the Fire Services had responded to 34 reports of bush fires in January in the North alone. He said this zone was from Chaguaramas to Sangre Grande. In January 2012, the number of bush fires recorded in the North was 11.
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