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Region urged to brace for drought, recurrent dry spells

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Region urged to brace for drought, recurrent dry spells

Thursday, January 31, 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 during the peak of the dry season have increased as the weak El Nio conditions are forecast to persist until the end of April.

El Nio refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific. Typical El Nio effects are likely to develop over North America during the winter season.

In its latest Caribbean Climate Outlook bulletin, the CIMH said that regionwide, extreme drought is unlikely.

“Wet days and wet spells are expected to become least frequent by March, while the chance for extreme wet spells tends to re-emerge in April, especially in the Greater Antilles, with some concern for flash flood potential arising then,” CIMH said, noting that temperatures will be seasonably comfortable at least through February, and start rising thereafter.

The CIMH said that shorter drought term situations by the end of April is evolving for the ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – as well as Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and that shorter term drought might possibly develop in Antigua, southern and central Belize, Cayman Islands, Guyana, St Kitts-Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname..

But it noted that while a weak El Nio is expected to contribute to reduced rainfall up until April, long-term drought is evolving in Antigua, Cayman, Grenada, Martinique and Tobago and that long-term drought “might possibly develop in most other areas in the region”.

In its bulletin, the CIMH said that for the period May to July this year, which is regarded as the transition period between the dry and wet season, it is expected that there will be increasing temperatures.

“This implies a gradual build-up of heat discomfort from April onwards, with the occurrence of a few heat waves becoming likely, first in Belize and Trinidad and, from July onwards, elsewhere.

“Temperatures across the region are expected to be warmer than usual. In view of drought relief in affected areas, May to July rainfall may not provide immediate recovery everywhere. Nevertheless, the occurrence of extreme wet spells is possible in any area, with a corresponding rise in flash flood potential,” the CIMH said in its bulletin.

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