Drier Than Normal May for Antigua, Droughts Reintensify

28 06 2018

Dale C. S. Destin |

The rainfall for May 2018 was below normal for Antigua. The total of 43.9 mm (1.73 in) was only 42% of what normally falls – 103.6 mm (4.08 in). Thus, there was a 58% deficit of rainfall for the month.

DroughtDial-Slight_to_ModerateThe last three-month period – March to May, upon which the assessment of the current intensity of the drought is based, had 135.1 mm (5.32 in), only 56% of the normal total of 240.8 mm (9.48 in). This puts the meteorological droughts current intensity at moderate, declining from slight.

With Potworks Dam totally dry and the vegetation of the Island struggling, there is little doubt that most other droughts are at moderate levels or worse. Happily, the full impacts of the droughts continue to be masked by the presence of the desalination plants.

The eight-month period – October 2017 to May 2018, the duration of the drought thus far, is deemed severely dry. This means that the total is in the bottom 5% of the historical data; such dryness is unusual – it happens, at most, once every 20 years, on average. The total for the period of 451.9 mm (17.79 in) is the lowest since 2001 and the fourth lowest on record dating back to 1928. The period normally gets 775.7 mm (30.54 in).

TemporalRainfall

Based on the last set of rainfall outlooks, the news is not good for rainfall. Overall, below normal rainfall is most likely for, at least, the next three months – July to September. Further, recent outlooks from global models indicate that the next six months will see below normal rainfall. Thus, there is every reason to believe that the droughts will continue and likely worsen.

The rainfall total for the year thus far – January to May, is well below normal. The 365.3 mm (14.38 in) is only 66% of what normally falls. Of the 91 years on record, only 17 have been drier to this point.

RainfallAccumulations_May2018

Even if the rainfall total turns out to be near average, it will not be enough, especially with respect to the hydrological drought, as the monthly evaporation rates will significantly exceed rainfall totals for most of the upcoming months. The chance of the droughts ending is around 20% or slight.

Recall that the current drought started in October 2017 with the intensity at serious levels. On average, serious meteorological droughts last for close to a year, but not continuously at serious intensity. We have just passed the eight-month mark. Will it go another four months? The answer still looks more like to be yes than no.

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