Region urged to brace for increased drought, dry spells

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — The Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) says chances of drought and recurrent dry spells have increased, except in The Bahamas and Cuba, during the first three months of this year.

CIMH, in its Caribbean Climate Outlooks released here yesterday, said that with an El Nio on forecast, chances of drought and recurrent dry spells during the dry season are increased and that region-wide extreme drought is unlikely.

“Wet days and wet spells are expected to become least frequent by March. Extreme wet spells in the coastal Guianas, though less likely than in other years, remain possible there, leading to concerns of flash flood potential. Temperatures will be seasonably comfortable at least through February, and start rising thereafter,” it said.

According to CIMH, as of December 1 last year, short-term drought in north-western parts of The Bahamas and Cuba, and in southern- and easternmost Hispaniola have been recorded while there have been long-term situations in Cayman, southernmost Hispaniola, eastern Jamaica, and much of the Leeward Islands.

CIMH said that shorter-term drought is evolving in Barbados, Cayman Islands, and coastal Suriname and is possible in many other areas, while there is long-term drought concern in Antigua, northern Bahamas, Cayman Islands, western Cuba, Grenada, eastern Jamaica, and St Kitts, which may possibly develop in many other areas in the Caribbean islands up to the month of March.

In its brief, CIMH notes that April to June marks the transition from the dry to the wet season.

“Dry spells are common, while the chance of heavy rainfall increases steadily. Temperatures will, at times, become uncomfortably hot for vulnerable portions of the population. Moreover, forecasts suggest warmer than usual temperatures, with the possibility of heat waves in May, particularly in Belize and Trinidad.

“In view of drought relief in areas that become affected by drought by the month of March, April to June rainfall as a whole may be wetter than usual in the eastern Caribbean,” the CIMH added.

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