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.

DroughtOutlookForTheCaribbean2015-2016

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.

May-Oct_SPI_2015

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.

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