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Drought conditions to affect Caribbean

Long-term drought remains an immediate concern to many Caribbean nations and continues to evolve in several others, according to the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF).

The Barbados-based entity said “moderate or worse drought has developed across the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, much of Cuba, westernmost Jamaica, Martinique, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and south-western Trinidad, in its latest edition of the Caribbean Climate Outlook Newsletter.

Further, CariCOF said long-term drought conditions are evolving in Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Barbados, Belize, Suriname, Trinidad and the Windward Islands, except Grenada.

“The first half of the Caribbean heat season is forecast to likely be at least as hot as usual, with heat stress peaking during heat waves in Belize and the islands.”

– CariCOF

It said short-term drought, until the end of May, is evolving in west-central Belize and is possible in northernmost Bahamas, northern Belize, Suriname, and Tobago.

According to CariCOF, for the first three months of this year, despite very wet conditions long-term drought persisted in many areas in the Caribbean and short term drought developed in the northwest and southeast of the Caribbean.

“Entering the Caribbean wet season, the Bahamas, Cayman, Cuba and Guianas are likely to see wetter than usual conditions. Other islands and Belize may remain drier than usual and continue to face reduced water availability due to persisting long term drought,” CariCOF said of the next quarter.

“Nonetheless, an increasing frequency of wet spells is forecast to increase flooding potential throughout the region. The first half of the Caribbean heat season is forecast to likely be at least as hot as usual, with heat stress peaking during heat waves in Belize and the islands,” it warned.

In its brief outlook for August to October, CariCOF said there are  relatively strong indications that three-month period may be wetter than usual across Belize, the Greater Antilles and the Leeward Islands.

“The heavier rains should keep temperatures moderate and hopefully bring drought relief to many affected areas. At the same time, the potential for flooding and flash floods will be very high across the region and especially in the aforementioned areas.

“By contrast, in Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and the Windward Islands the second half of the Caribbean heat season may be among the warmest in recent times, especially if drought were to continue,” CariCOF added.

–CMC