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Weatherwatch: Trinidad and Tobago – one nation, two very different islands

·1 min read

Although commonly considered part of the Caribbean region, the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago falls into two very different zoogeographical zones.

Tobago, the smaller island to the north, is indeed typically Caribbean, with a fairly limited fauna and flora, similar to other islands in the Lesser Antilles such as Grenada, Barbados and St Lucia. Trinidad, which lies much closer to the coast of Venezuela than it does to Tobago, has a more wide-ranging list of species, including many also found in the rest of South America.

Climatically, however, both islands are fairly similar. Conditions are warm all year round, with virtually no variation in daytime or night-time temperatures. Rainfall, however, does vary: the dry season runs from January to May, and the wet season from June to December. Both islands are cooled by the prevailing north-easterly trade winds, which make the climate more comfortable than the raw temperatures might suggest.

Being closer to the equator than other islands in the region, the country rarely experiences hurricanes; the major exception was Hurricane Flora in 1963, one of the deadliest in history. Flora caused major destruction across Tobago, where it wiped out an introduced population of the greater bird of paradise from New Guinea, whose numbers were no longer viable after the storm. Since then, the only notable weather event has been Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, which caused very little damage.

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