Drier than Usual July, Drought Continues

27 08 2021

Dale C. S. Destin |

July was drier than usual like the first five months of the year. The month yielded only 65.5 mm (2.58 in) of rainfall. Although July took over from June as being the wettest month for the current year; it barely made a dent in the ongoing droughts. July has become the only month of the year, thus far, to clock over two-and-half inches of rain. The rainfall for the last seven months ranks among the worst on record and there is not much respite in sight.

Potworks Reservoir, Bethesda, Antigua, on the verge of becoming totally dry – July 7, 2021. Picture courtesy Karen Corbin of the Humane Society

The rainfall for July is the lowest since 2018, when the country had 39.6 mm (1.56 in). The total for the month represents only 67 percent of the normal value of 98.0 mm (3.86 in), a deficit of 33 percent.

The period May-July was also drier than usual. The total of 138.4 mm (5.45 in) was the 13th driest on record starting 1928. The last time this period was drier was 2015 with 74.4 mm (2.96 in).

We continue to witness one of the driest years on record. The last seven months is the fifth driest on record and the driest since 2015. January to July produced only a meagre 270.3 mm (10.64 in), only a little above half of the usual rainfall of 500.1 mm (19.69 in). Again, just four other years have been drier through July: 2015, 2001, 1977 and 1939.

Since the 2020 November’s deluge, the last eight months, December-July, is the seventh driest on record and the lowest since 2015. The period has only yielded 58 percent of normal rainfall. Our starving landscape and parched grounds continue to bear witness to the below normal rainfall.

The upcoming autumn, September to November, is likely to see us continue to suffer from a scarcity of rainfall. The majority of models are forecasting the continuation of lower-than-normal rainfall. Hence, the drought is likely to continue. Our largest catchment, Potworks Reservoir, along with others, are transitioning to dry land, again.

WMO Lead Centre for Long-Range Forecast Multi-Model Ensemble is forecasting 50-60% likelihood of below normal rainfall for Antigua and Barbuda. Also, below normal rainfall is likely for much of the rest of the northeast Caribbean.

Based on models which correlate our sea surface temperatures, across the tropics, with our rainfall, the medium and long term continue to look brown. The year will most likely remain drier than usual with a 61 percent chance of below normal rainfall; this is up 11 percent from last month.

As the meteorological drought goes, so go the other droughts: agricultural, hydrological and ecological. There is also the growing concern that this may precipitate a socio-economic drought, if it has not already done so. Our utilisation of the ocean around us for fresh water has made us resilient; however, this is expensive water, over seven times the cost of that from surface and ground water.  

Potworks Reservoir remain below extraction levels, along with most other surface catchments, according the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), the country’s water authority. Water rationing has officially started and with the rainfall outlook being gloomy, it is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Antigua is not alone in experiencing significant rainfall shortages. The countries around us remain  thirsty for rainfall. Deficit rainfall is occurring across the rest of the Leeward Islands, and it is probable that it will worsen, over the upcoming months.  

Please continue to follow me for more on this evolving drought and all things weather and climate via TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Also, share this blog, if you found it useful. 

August Updated Forecast for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season

19 08 2021

Dale C. S. Destin |

The forecast for the 2021 hurricane Season continues to call for an active season with the possibility of it being super-hyperactive. The confidence of an above normal season has remained virtually unchanged at 78%. It is also possible that the season could be super hyperactive or well above normal, with numbers reaching the top 10 percentile 1991-2020 base period or current climate period.

The prediction is now for 22 named storms (subtropical storms, tropical storms and hurricanes), with a 70 percent confidence or high confidence of the number ranging between 17 to 28. It is also likely–69 percent chance, that the number of named storms will exceed 19 and be in the top 10 percentile of the current climate period.

My forecast also calls for an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) index of 188 with a high confidence of the range being 115 to 284. Also predicted are 11 hurricanes with a 70 percent confidence of  the total being 7 to 15, and 5 major hurricanes with high confidence of 3 to 7.

The season could also be well above normal or super hyperactive. There is also a 45% chance of the ACE exceeding 223, the top 10 percentile of the current climate period. Further, there is a massive 69% chance of more than 19 named storms or the number of named storms reaching the top 10 percentile. There is also a 41% chance of more than 11 hurricanes and 45% chance of more than 6 major hurricanes.

If this forecast pans out, this season would be the most active since 2017, in terms of ACE, and the 10th most active on record dating back to 1851. It would also be ranked third for the highest number of named storms, tied for 5th for the most hurricanes and 11th for the most major hurricanes.

If the season turns out to be hyperactive, as is possible, it will rank even higher. Only seven seasons have had a higher ACE than 223; three seasons with more than 19 named storms; four with more than 11 hurricanes and two with more than 6 major hurricanes.

The season initially got off to a “flyer” but became sedate in July. Since the start of August, activity has picked back up, going at a rate of of about one-and-half times the normal season. To date, there have been eight named storms with three becoming hurricanes. A typical season, based on the standard climate period 1991-2020, has 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

The main reason for the above normal forecast is the likely weak La Niña conditions or cold El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) during August to October–the peak of the hurricane season.

Please share this blog, if you found it useful and follow me for more on the ongoing hurricane season, which, god forbid, could end up to be another wild one like last year; also follow for all things weather and climate – TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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