Drought Almost Everywhere

9 03 2019

Dale C. S. Destin |

Red is a beautiful colour but not when it is on a rainfall map. On such a map, red is bad news – it is a warning that something very unwelcome is happening – severe drought.

According to data from the Caribbean Climate Outlook Newsletter, over the past three months – November to January, rainfall deficits have resulted in severe drought across many parts of the Caribbean. This includes, parts or the whole of Barbados, Cuba, Hispaniola, St. Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago.  

Beyond the last three months – longer term drought is seen across Antigua and Barbuda and much of the rest of the northeast Caribbean, the Cayman Islands, parts of the Dominican Republic, northeast Guyana, much of the Windward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago.

El Nino, warmer than usual sea surface temperatures across the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, is likely to have been the main cause of the deficit in rainfall over the past six months.

Regression analysis shows that El Nino normally causes negative rainfall anomalies – below normal rainfall, cross much of the region, especially across the Eastern Caribbean during September to November (SON) and December to February (DJF).

El Nino and rainfall – It normally results in negative (-) rainfall anomalies or below normal rainfall across the Caribbean during SON. Graphic courtesy U.S. Climate Predicttion Centre.

El Nino and rainfall – It normally results in negative (-) rainfall anomalies across the Eastern Caribbean and positive anomalies across the Western Caribbean during DJF.
Graphic courtesy U.S. Climate Predicttion Centre

The Newsletter indicates that there is just a little bit of distant light at the end of the tunnel for most of the Caribbean with respect to the end of the drought. How distant is this light? Three to six months down the road for the northeast Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda, at which time, the forecast is for rainfall to be most likely above normal. However, this light could go dark, if El Nino continues, as is most likely from this vantage point.

Usual rainfall totals for the Caribbean for March to May

The exceptions to the rule are Cuba and Jamaica, which are most likely to have above normal rainfall during the upcoming three months.

Unfortunately, we will continue to see mostly red for the rest of the next three months with a glimmer of hope for friendly, calming colours – blues, thereafter.

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