WELL-PROTECTED: Umbrellas out in full force yesterday as taxpayers lined up outside the Inland Revenue Office at Cipero Street, San Fernando, as the rain came down, marking of the beginning of the rainy season. —Photo: TREVOR WATSON

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Rainy season begins today

Get out your umbrellas...

The rainy season and the North Atlantic hurricane season officially begin today.

And the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (Met Office) is predicting that the next six months are going to be wet.

"We expect this rainy season to be average to above average," said senior meteorologist Shakeer Baig. National Hurricane Centre (NHC) out of Miami, Florida, and other agencies that monitor the Atlantic Hurricane Basin (North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico) forecast a very active 2011 season. "The average for a hurricane season is ten named storms, with six reaching hurricane stage and at least two becoming major hurricanes," said Baig, "however, this year the predicted average is 16 named storms, nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes."

Baig said climatologically, July is the rainiest month in T&T, with November second. However, he added, tropical systems that make landfall and feeder bands from hurricanes can cause significant rainfall at any time during the season. He said every rainy season is reason for concern about whether the country is prepared for not only the rainy season, but a direct hit from a tropical storm or hurricane.

He said the Met Office advises everyone to be better prepared, even if it is just around homes and the community. He urged residents to keep drains and yards clean, tree branches trimmed in case of heavy winds, and major waterways free of garbage. "In our own small ways we can make our communities better prepared for heavy rains," he said.

He added, "The Met Office works 24/7, constantly monitoring the weaker systems in T&T and the Eastern Caribbean. If we recognise a potentially disruptive system, we will do our best to alert the public as soon as possible. We also work closely with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) to alert them to any situation."

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