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Heat leads to downtown floods

Thursday, August 7, 2014
Pedestrians stranded near the colonial style PTSC building at South Quay squeeze for space on the pavement as downtown Port-of-Spain was swamped by afternoon flash flooding yesterday.

Thundershowers yesterday afternoon, which resulted in flash flooding in Port-of-Spain and environs, were caused by high morning temperatures, says Shakeer Baig, meteorologist at the Met Office. In a telephone interview yesterday, Baig said: “Maximum temperature got up to 34 degrees Celsius and this amount of heat, coupled with the moist and unstable atmosphere, leads to development of thunderclouds and thundershowers. 

“The heavy showers were totally localised and were not associated with any weather systems or tropical waves.” Baig said he expected the pattern of high morning temperatures and afternoon thundershowers in certain areas to continue until the weekend. 

The CEO of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), Dr Stephen Ramroop, said there was no reason to be alarmed at the heavy afternoon downpour. He said flash flooding in the city was due to the blockage of small channels that drain water from downtown Port-of-Spain. “Once we continue to litter the streets of Port-of-Spain, flash flooding would continue. When the drains are blocked, the road turns into a river,” he said.

Ramroop added the Water Resource Agency, along with the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs, was working on a drainage plan for the city. Meanwhile, Baig said this year’s rainy season was still shaping up to be below average. “We’re expecting this trend to continue, along with relatively calm tropical storm activity,” he said.

To compound matters, downtown Port-of-Spain was hit with an electrical blackout during the flash flooding causing several businesses to shut their doors. The T&T Electricity Commission did not respond to queries about what caused the blackout.

Pedestrians exiting City Gate, the main transport hub, were marooned as flood waters transformed South Quay to a murky brown lake littered with floating debris. Motorists too stalled as they tried to venture through the flood waters, which averaged about 18 inches in some places. Traffic in the city became chaotic as motorists tried to find alternative routes.

Both the Morvant and Malick Rivers overflowed blocking traffic along the Eastern Main Road. Within 30 minutes the flood waters subsided and the sun was back out.


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