Region likely to be affected by drought up to September

Region likely to be affected by drought up to September

Saturday, June 29, 2019

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – The Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) said yesterday that drought conditions in the Caribbean will continue in several countries from July to September this year.

In its latest Caribbean Climate Outlooks publication, the CIMH said that the situation is due in part to a weak El Niño.

It said Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao (ABC Islands), Belize, and the Lesser Antilles will continue to experience drought situations and that “a progressive increase in wet spells are expected throughout the region, however, possibly fewer than in most wet seasons.

“The spells may bring some level of drought relief, but also concern for flooding. Peak heat stress will likely be experienced between August and September, especially during heatwaves. Episodes of Saharan dust incursion are expected,” the CIMH reported.

It said that as of June 1, severe, or worse, drought has developed in northern Belize, eastern extremities of Cuba, coastal French Guiana, the northern Leewards, western parts of Trinidad on the short term, and in Barbados, southern Belize, southernmost Dominican Republic, French Guiana, south-western Haiti, and Martinique and Trinidad on the long term.

Long-term concerns are also evolving in Dominica, French Guiana, Martinique, Sint Maarten and Trinidad, and is possible in Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, Barbados, most of Belize, northern Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, St Lucia, Tobago and the United States Virgin Islands.

The CIMH said that in recent months, sea-surface temperature (SSTs) in the tropical Pacific maintained a weak El Niño level with SST anomalies about 0.5-1°C above average and that is expected to be maintained during the forecast period.

“... El Niño tends to tilt the odds to warmer and drier conditions with less shower activity in most parts of the Caribbean. Note, however, that an El Niño maintaining into December could lessen these impacts during the later part of the season in the north-western part of the region.”

According to the CIMH, during the period October to December, indications are that drought in affected areas may lessen with favourable rains forecasted for the last three months of 2019 in the Caribbean, which may be wetter than usual in the ABC Islands, Belize, Cayman, Hispaniola, and eastern Greater Antilles, but possibly drier than usual in Suriname and French Guiana.

“Extreme wet spells, whether or not associated with tropical cyclones, are a main feature of this period, with enhanced concern for flash flood potential in any part of the region. Heat stress will likely decrease after October, while episodes of Saharan dust incursions should be infrequent,” the CIMH added.

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