The potential virtues of radar observations for short time scale early warning of hazardous conditions are explored through case studies of two different common weather phenomena in Trinidad and Tobago, the southernmost of the eastern Caribbean chain of islands. Observation of severe local storms structure (including wind velocity), initiation, and evolution only became possible with the deployment of a Doppler weather radar into operations in 2010 (through a program initiated by the Caribbean Meteorological Organization and funded by the European Commission). Trinidad’s west coast low-level convergence phenomenon is somewhat special and can lead to heavy rains and flooding. One example shows how this localized convergence leads to precipitation on a day otherwise expected to be sunny and dry. A second example shows heavy rains and flooding in Port of Spain during conditions that, without the convergence, might imply unremarkable showers. Two cases of intense surface winds within African easterly waves are presented, with the focus on whether these damaging situations can be detected and warnings issued in a timely enough manner to allow for meaningful precautions to be taken. In one of the cases, strong surface winds created flying debris and damaged homes, businesses, and other infrastructure. Such strong surface winds are also of concern for aviation safety. The application of Doppler radar for warning of severe weather has been a tremendous success in many countries. With access to modern radar, Trinidad and Tobago and other countries in the Caribbean Radar Network are poised to realize similar gains. In each case, the time between detection and hazard realization was short. Hence, rapid communication and coordination with a warning system is required. These cases were brought to our attention by meteorologists at the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service during the practicum part of their radar training. Through such training Caribbean forecasters gain the skills to detect high-impact weather using Doppler radar imagery. Thereby, becoming better equipped to give timely warning to the public and key local users, such as the aviation industry and disaster preparedness agencies.
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