Drought Expected to Continue

30 11 2015

Dale C. S. Destin |

The main news coming out of the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF), held at the Marriott Resort, St. Kitts, November 26-27, is that below to near normal rainfall is expected to continue for most of the Caribbean. This means that it is highly likely that drought will continue, worsen or develop across most of the region.


Over the last twenty-four months, many parts of the Caribbean have had record or near record low rainfall over various periods. The red in the standard precipitation index (SPI) map below shows severely dry weather across most islands. This has been mainly due to El Nino and Saharan Dust.


The forecast also calls for higher than normal temperatures for the upcoming six months. All things being equal, these unseasonal temperatures will worsen the impacts of the drought by causing more than normal evaporation.

The 2015 Dry Season CariCOF brought together representatives from the region’s weather and climate services and climate sensitive sectors to discuss the next season’s forecasts and its potential socio-economy implications on the region.

Of course, having looked at the potential implications of the forecasts, it is anticipated that the sector-leaders would implement plans to mitigate possible negative impacts and maximise potential opportunities.

The actual forecasts were produced during the pre-CariCOF training workshop for meteorologists and climatologists, November 23-25, at the above mentioned venue.

During the workshop, the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) unveiled the Caribbean Outlook Generator (CAROGEN).  CAROGEN is a potential game changing tool. It is expected to significantly reduce the time and stress linked with the production of climate forecasts for the region.

Another highlight of the pre-CariCOF workshop was the media training. This is a part of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) efforts to promote the value of climate services to island nations, such as ours.

The training was conducted by David Eades – world renowned journalist and celebrity with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).  He shared with us some of the “tricks of the trade” including understanding what journalists are looking for and framing effective messages.

In the short-term, water conservation and efficiency measures should be ramped up, to cope with the ongoing shortage of rainfall. For the medium to long-term, strategies, including those to increase water storage capacity and improve drought management plans, are required to build resilience to drought.

Congratulations to Adrian Trotman and his CIMH team for organizing another very successful CariCOF! The next CariCOF is schedule for May/June 2016 in Dominica. It is expected to have a special focus on the link between climate and health.

First Product of the Restarted Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum

9 03 2012

The first product of the restarted Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum – CARICOF is now available. It’s the Precipitation Outlook for the Caribbean for the period March – May. According to the CARICOF, the distinction in rainfall between the above normal South-eastern Caribbean and the below normal North-western Caribbean continues but with decreasing certainty. Some regional data suggest that the Eastern Caribbean may be moving toward a period of normal to below normal rainfall, but it is believed, that as the many global models indicate, the Eastern Caribbean will maintain its normal to above normal characteristic for a bit longer. Normal conditions are expected in the northernmost portion of the eastern including Antigua and Barbuda. However, further west, there is no clear signal in the region of Hispaniola, Jamaica, southern Cuba, and Belize; thus, there is an equal chance of rainfall being above, near or below normal. However, most models agree on the below normal conditions persisting in the northwest Caribbean around northern Cuba and The Bahamas. Larger view of the below product

Precipitation Outlook for the Caribbean - Mar to May 2012

Precipitation Outlook for the Caribbean - Mar to May 2012

The march towards the restart of the CARICOF, which was initiated in 1998, started a little less than two years ago with a workshop convened in June 2010 in Barbados. Since then, there have been a number of activities to get the Forum restarted, including an international workshop in Dakar Senegal in June-July 2011. Last week, the many activities of the past 21 months culminated in the official launch of the CARICOF in Barbados on March 2, 2012.  Leading up to the launch, there were two separate but complementary activities: a technical training workshop (Feb 27 – 29) and a partnership workshop (Mar 1). The training workshop provided meteorological and climatological personnel from the Caribbean including Belize, Guyana and Surinam, with knowledge to develop and utilize relevant information and tools, including forecasts. The partnership workshop brought together key partners and users of information in order to help develop a dialogue on the value and utility of available information and tools.

Climate variability and change pose significant risk for many regions of the world, including the Caribbean Region. Thus, early warning information systems are critical components of preparedness, risk reduction and adaptation. With the aid of the World Meteorological Organization, Regional Outlook Fora (RCOF) are active in many parts of the world. These RCOFs are critical for the development and effectiveness of early warning systems; they provide seasonal climate forecasts and interpretation across relevant time and special scales. The CARICOF seeks to do likewise in an effort to support adaptation and disaster risk reduction in our region.

Technical and financial support for the restart of the CARICOF came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH).

See the following link for climate products relative to Antigua and Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda Met Service Climate Section

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