Caribbean begins new season in 'water deficit'
Several Caribbean countries could be affected by a drought in the early part of the year, which couldaffect farmers

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – The Barbados-based Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CDPMN) Monday said that many Caribbean countries will be starting the new season “with a deficit in water resources” as the region continues to be affected by a “relatively dry” period.

In its latest bulletin issued here, the CDPMN said that many parts in the Caribbean experienced dry weather conditions towards the end of last year, particularly countries east of Haiti “which is not preferred going into the dry season, as those impacted countries will be starting the season with a deficit in water resources.

“Concerns over short-term drought that can impact soil moisture availability, streams and small rivers by the end of March 2022 exist in Belize, western Cuba, Antigua and Guadeloupe,” the CDPMN noted.

It said that short-term drought “might possibly develop or continue” in Barbados, Dominica, southern Dominican Republic, northern Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, the USVI [US Virgin Islands] and St Kitts.

The CDPMN said that the “greatest concerns over long-term drought that can negatively impact large rivers and reservoirs and groundwater by the end of May 2022 exist over southern Belize, western Cuba and the US Virgin Islands.

“Interests in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the eastern Caribbean should also monitor their water resources, as there is some likelihood for significant enough drying throughout the dry season,” it warned.

Among the countries likely to be affected by the long-term drought in the eastern Caribbean include Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, with the CDPMN also advising “all stakeholders to keep monitoring their environment for signs of drought”.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) says during the next three months, La Niña conditions remain in place in this cool part of the dry season, leading to frequent dry spells in areas west of Puerto Rico, particularly in The Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Cuba.

It said as a result, the conditions “are likely to increase wildfire potential and decrease water levels in surface reservoirs and ponds.

“By contrast, more wet days and a few wet spells may slow water reservoir loss in the Guianas and the Lesser Antilles,” and that “a particularly wet season is expected until February in northern parts of the Guianas, with high potential for flooding and associated hazards”.

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