Dale C. S. Destin |
Last Friday – September 26, 2014 is easily the wettest day of the year thus far at V. C. Bird International Airport located in Coolidge, Antigua. Last Friday, a low pressure system aloft dumped in excess of 30 mm on many parts of Antigua. At the V. C. Bird International Airport, where the Met Office is located, 30.4 mm were record for the day of which 26.6 mm fell within an hour and a half.
Rainfall data at the Airport shows that this was by far the wettest day for the year with the previous wettest being May 10 with 21.3 mm. The 30.4 mm is more than the total rainfall recorded, at the Airport, for February, March, June and July.
On average, September produces one day with rainfall total of one inch (25.4 mm) or more. Thus, in terms of daily rainfall accumulations, this is not unusual. However, although hourly rainfall totals are not available for the Airport, 26.6 mm in less than 1.5 hours seems extreme, based on experience.
Figures thus far for the year up to September 28 show there has been only one day with an inch or more of rain at the Airport. We would expect five days with an inch or more by this point. Annually, there are 8 days with an inch or more of rain. The record wettest day at the Airport is November 19, 1999 with 241.8 mm, caused by the unforgettable Hurricane Lenny.
Since the first 15 days of September, which yielded a meagre 16.3 mm of rain at the Airport, the 6th driest start to the month on record, there has been 67.0 mm. This is 9.7 mm more than the average for the second half of the month.
The rainfall event of September 26 has put, at most, a small dent into the drought. However, the total for the month will likely end up below normal and the rainfall deficit from the start of the drought will increase further. At this point, a further seven inches or so of rain is required to end the drought, at least from a meteorological standpoint. In the short term, water conservation cannot be over emphasised, but in the long run, bold and innovative water resource management strategies are required to address our water insecurity.