By Dale C. S. Destin |
Although we are in the midst of a drought, we have just witnessed one of the wettest starts to November, for many parts of Antigua and Barbuda. The rainfall total for the month got off to a flying start from day 1 with a tropical wave dumping 17.4 mm (0.69”) and it has continued almost unabated up to present. Last weekend, we saw basically a deluge which prompted the issuance of flood watches and warnings. According to radar data, up to 142 mm (5.6”) of rain fell across Antigua and up to 280 mm (11.0”) across Barbuda, as skies opened up in response to a powerful, upper level low pressure system.
Last weekend’s wet weather was not confined to the northeast Caribbean. Heavy downpours were also experienced further south with in excess of 140 mm (5.5”) measured as far south as St. Lucia, where there were reports of land slides.
Figures up to November 10 show there has been 113.5 mm (4.47”) of rain at the Met Office located at the V. C. Bird International Airport. This is well above normal for this period and the fifth wettest on record dating back to 1967. It is also the second wettest such period since 1986. On average, the Airport gets 135.1 mm (5.32”) of rainfall during November; thus, the rainfall accumulation for the first 10 days is less than 22 mm away from the average total for the whole month.
The wet episode for November has had a quenching impact on the drought. However, it is not over; actually it is far from over. Although the drought has eased to slight levels, another 139.7 mm (5.5”) is needed to end it.
Will we get the needed amount of rainfall to end the drought? It is unclear as the climate is sending mixed signals as to what will happen for the rest of November and the next three months. The spike in rainfall seems to be partially due to warmer than normal North Atlantic sea surface temperatures, which are likely to persist. However, an El Nino is brewing, and if established, could suppress rainfall.
Of course, while these figures are interesting, they don’t tell us where the month will end up overall. On average at the Airport, the rest of November averages 94.6 mm (3.74”) of rainfall. In the past, this period has had as little as 5.6 mm (0.22’’) and as much as 578.3 mm (22.77”).