Trinidad & Tobago is used to heat, but not quite like this

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Trinidad and Tobago has been recording steep temperatures of late. On August 27, the Meteorological Office recorded a high of 34.7 degrees Celsius (94.46 degrees Fahrenheit); the next day, the high was 33.8°C (92.84°F). Prior to the weekend, on August 25, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) reminded people of the steps they should take to avoid dehydration or heatstroke, including drinking lots of water, avoiding caffeinated or sugary drinks, staying in the shade, wearing breathable clothing and avoiding strenuous activities.

According to the Met Office, the oppressive heat is being caused by the country's “heat season,” which runs from May to October every year. With the Atlantic Ocean experiencing above-normal sea surface temperatures (SSTs), the trade winds in turn become warmer. In addition, the impact of El Niño‘s Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has resulted in less cloud development, so there is precious little to block the sun's rays.

The fact that Trinidad and Tobago lies 10° north of the equator, coupled with the warming of the planet caused by climate change, has made the heat that much more unbearable. This is especially true for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that find themselves on the frontline of the crisis:

Coupled with the relatively high humidity that is more intensely felt in more developed areas, the days have been, in a word, scorchers — enough to prompt many social media users to stay indoors, take to their respective platforms, and express their astonishment:

A few X (formerly Twitter) users made the point that whatever temperatures were being recorded on the thermostats actually felt much hotter:

The heat index, determined by combining air temperature and relative humidity, determines how hot it actually feels.

Another spared a thought for other parts of the world that have been experiencing even higher heat conditions.

On Facebook, journalist Judy Raymond called the heat “infernal,” Tracey Davis was convinced it was “not normal,” and blogger Renard Moreau described the temperatures as “cruel”:

Try to imagine yourself attempting to carry out your day-to-day affairs when the temperature is 34°C (93.2°F) […] you will feel as though you are being cooked alive.

One X user wasn't sure he could tolerate the temperatures until October (the El Niño cycle has been known to last months):

One local weather page predicted that the “days will get hotter” as September is typically the hottest month in the twin-island republic.

Much of the social media commentary surmised that the heat was so intense it must be some kind of divine retribution:

Bari Khan quipped:

I really have to be better in this life because if I can't handle this heat in Trinidad I definitely can't handle it in hell.

As netizens continued to express their dismay, government ministries, medical associations and business/public interest groups disseminated information on how humans and animals can stay safe in the heat, which has been so intense it has forced workers out of non-air-conditioned buildings.

Some people decided to use humour to try and cool down the situation. One TikTok user deemed that “anybody who bathing in hot water these days in Trinidad is not to be trusted,” while Facebook user Kobe N. Sandy admonished taxi drivers that “if yuh AC not working you not allowed to run …”

This X user felt that the heat could be used as an energy-saver:

Another, however, was perfectly happy to move into a walk-in fridge:

A fellow X user suggested:

Humour aside, the Trinidad and Tobago Express, in “acknowledging the climate change science that temperatures will only get higher and for longer spells,” penned an editorial that suggested it was high time for a more coordinated national response:

While the Met Office is yet to declare a heat wave (five or more consecutive days of 34+ degrees Celsius temperatures), that is ­academic given the mind-numbing heat and humidity.

There is the macro context of climate chaos and there is the micro reality of how climate change manifests in specific locations at different times of the year. Here, torrents in the wet season and scorching days in the dry are predictable. As with flooding, the country is witnessing a general lack of prepared attention to the oppressive heat. […]

When the weather changes, daily life changes. At the moment, the population is staggering through these heat spells with neither emergency response protocol nor mitigation plans that we know of.

It added, however, that there was “still time for the various line ministries and agencies to step up to their responsibilities.”

By August 29, a much needed respite came in the form of a tropical wave north of Trinidad and Tobago, which brought with it periodic showers and some spurts of heavy rainfall. Cloud cover was also more widespread, which assisted with cooler temperatures (the high was 31°C or 87.8°F).

Most people undoubtedly hope it stays this way, because in the words of X user Trinidad:

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