Caribbean warned of impact of lingering drought

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Many Caribbean countries experienced a relatively dry January this year but there is some likelihood for incipient drought concerns in some places by the end of February if it becomes as dry as January, the Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CDPMN) has warned.

In its Caribbean drought Bulletin released here Monday, the CDPMN said there is however, little concern over drought in the Eastern Caribbean apart from in the south, particularly over Tobago, where there could eventually be impacts by the end of the dry season in May.

“There is some likelihood for incipient drought concerns in some places by the end of February if it becomes as dry as January. There is much greater concern for western countries over both short and long term drought. This is particularly so over the Cayman Islands and Cuba.

“Other countries like Jamaica, Belize, The Bahamas, Puerto Rico and French Guiana should monitor conditions closely as the region goes through its dry season,” the CDPMN noted.

It said that rainfall quantities were varied across the islands of the Eastern Caribbean during January. Conditions in Trinidad ranged from slightly dry in the northwest to moderately wet in the southeast; Tobago slightly wet; Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica and Antigua, and Anguilla normal; Barbados from normal in the north to severely dry the southeast.

CDPMN said that  St. Vincent and St. Thomas experienced slightly dry weather in January, while the weather pattern in Martinique ranged from normal in the south to severely dry in the north; St. Maarten and St. Croix moderately dry.

“Conditions in the Guianas ranged from normal in the north of Guyana and the central Suriname and French Guiana border to very wet in the south of Guyana and south west Suriname.”

The CDPMN, which was launched in 2009 under the Caribbean Water Initiative (CARIWIN), said Grand Cayman has experienced its driest year on record with an observed wet season rainfall sum of only 50 per cent of average.

“As a result, the island is in both short- and long-term drought. Belize, central Cuba and Tobago are also in long-term drought,’ it said, adding that “we expect a shorter-term drought situation to continue in Cayman, Cuba and south French Guiana and, to possibly develop in Bahamas, Jamaica and north Haiti”.

It said that long term drought situation, until May 2017, is likely to persist in Cayman and potentially become more impactful as the dry tourism season progresses.

“It is evolving in central Cuba and Tobago, and is possible in portions of Belize, east Cuba, Grenada, French Guiana, Jamaica, north west and south east Puerto Rico and Trinidad,” CDPMN said, noting that though that dry season impacts may be quite similar to the usual, longer-term drought will not likely be a major concern by the end of the dry season in other areas.

During the three month period, November last year to January 2017, the CDPMN said predominantly normal to above normal rainfall was experienced in the islands of the eastern Caribbean for the three month period.

Trinidad was normal to moderately wet; Tobago slight to moderately wet; Barbados moderately wet in the north to extremely wet in the south; St. Vincent exceptionally wet; St. Lucia moderate to exceptionally wet from north to south.

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