The Driest Year for Antigua since at Least 1871

21 12 2015

Dale C. S. Destin |

Earlier this year, we indicated that Antigua could see its driest year on record. Regrettably, this is coming to past. The country is on its way to having the driest year on record dating back to at least 1871 or 145 years ago.

Up to the end of November, the rainfall total stood at 525.8 mm (20.70 in). Based on measured rainfall, it’s the lowest on record for any January-November period dating back to 1928. Further, based on statistical analyses, we are almost 100% certain that this is the driest such 11 months since 1871.

Annual Rainfall for Antigua. Blue line - rainfall; heavy grey line - normal rainfall using base period 1981-2010

Annual Rainfall for Antigua. Blue line – rainfall; heavy grey line – normal rainfall using the base period 1981-2010.

It would take perhaps a miraculous deluge to prevent the 1983 record (681.5 mm or 26.83 in) from being broken. Over six inches of rain is required in December to prevent the record from being broken. Thus far for the month, the rainfall total is less than an inch.

There have been only 11 times in 88 years when the rainfall for December has exceeded 155.7 mm (6.13 in) – the amount required to prevent the record from falling. The probability of this happening is around 12%, El Nino or not. Currently, we are at least 70% certain that this rainfall will not materialize.

We could also see our record driest wet season (July-December). Statistically, there is a very low chance of this happening – around 8%; however, given the near record low rainfall for the month thus far, the chance is increasing.

We do not actually have data from our current stations going back beyond 1928. However, with the use of regression analysis, we were able to use other datasets to successfully extend our record back to 1871. So we now have very high quality datasets of annual and some seasonal rainfall totals dating back 145 years.

Like Antigua, most of the eastern half of the Caribbean could also see record-breaking low rainfall for 2015.

Caribbean Rainfall - Dec 2014 to Nov 2015

Nov 2014-Dec 2015 SPI. The darker the reds, the drier the weather; the darker the blues, the wetter the weather. Record or near record low rainfall for much of the eastern half of the Caribbean basin.

El Nino, Saharan dust and a positive North Atlantic Oscillation are the main culprits for the parched weather conditions for this year.

Keep following this “space” for more insights into the rainfall for Antigua and the Caribbean. Unfortunately, we have additional undesirable statistics to share with you on this subject.

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