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Quickly fading La Niña delays onset of wet season in the C'bean

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — The Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) says the onset of the wet season may be delayed by a few weeks in much of the Caribbean region.

“By contrast, The Bahamas, Cuba, and French Guiana might be wetter than usual, with extreme wet spells being a potential concern for flooding and flash floods,” CIMH said, blaming a “quickly fading La Niña” which is associated with cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures, for the situation.

In its latest Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) outlooks for the period May to October this year, released Tuesday, the CIMH said heat discomfort, surface wetness and large water reservoir recharge rates related to wet spells may show a slower increase than usual.

“However, dry spells and episodes of Saharan dust incursion may be frequent in Belize and the islands,” it added.

CIMH said it continues to “see no drought concern developing throughout most of the region” with the a drought watch however being issued for Antigua, north Bahamas, south east Belize, western Cuba, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, St Maarten, St Kitts, central Suriname, Tobago, Virgin Islands.

It said copious rainfall during the wet season of 2017 and no large deficits having been built up since the start of the Caribbean dry season in most places, with south-eastern Haiti, north-western Guyana, south-western Jamaica, western-Puerto Rico being under long term drought, while north west Guyana is under short term drought.

“Shorter term drought is evolving in coastal portions of Suriname, and might possibly develop in other portions of the Guianas. Long term drought is evolving in southeastern Haiti, and might possibly develop in Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao (ABC) islands, Antigua, western Cuba, northern and south-eastern Belize, coastal portions of French Guiana, St Maarten, and portions of eastern Suriname.”

The CIMH said that from May to July, night-time temperatures may be warmer than usual in ABC islands and the north-western Caribbean but cooler in the Lesser Antilles with the maximum day time temperature being cooler than usual from Trinidad southwards.

“The hottest part of the year (August till early October) will likely be at least as warm as usual,” CIHM said, noting that “there will likely be less heatwave days than in most recent years across the region during this period.

“Notwithstanding, there is a 15-20 per cent chance for at least 14 heatwave days in Belize, eastern Cuba and Trinidad in the period May to July 2018,”it said, adding that “although there is the likelihood of a few heatwaves in many locations which may cause heat stress in human populations or livestock, the heat stress should be less acute than in most recent years”.

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