Regional Drought

By: nigel20 , 10:07 PM GMT on July 19, 2014

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Jamaica, as is the case for much of the region, is now experiencing drought conditions. Wildfires are burning, vegetation is drying up and water storage levels are currently approaching crisis levels. Take Jamaica, for example, a recent news report suggests that water resources in the Kingston Metropolitan are on the brink of being depleted. To be specific, the report suggests that only One month's supply of water in Corporate Area is available. Except for may be Cuba and the Bahamas, the rest of the Caribbean is experiencing below normal rainfall, and drought conditions could get worse if conditions continue as is.

Figure 1: Dry vegetation in central Jamaica. Source of image: Personal photo

What's causing the drought?

May, generally marks the commencement of the Caribbean's secondary wet season. But seasonal rainfall has been below normal since then. Why, you may ask? The most likely reason would be El Nino, though climate change may exacerbate these conditions, the evidence to support this theory is inconclusive. El Nino has not been declared, but sea surface temperature anomalies have been at or close to the 0.5 Celsius threshold since mid April. The southern oscillation index was out of sync with warming equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures, but recent downward spikes in the index suggests that the official declaration may be on the horizon.

Figure 2: Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies, note the warmer than average SSTs across the equatorial and northern Pacific. Source of image: Tropical Tidbits

The subtropical jet is further south in El Nino/warm ENSO years, this will generally increase the upper level winds across the Caribbean and the tropical Atlantic, which enhances vertical wind shear across the aforementioned area. These conditions tend to suppress tropical cyclone development, with accompanying dryer than normal conditions in the main development region.

El Nino effects during June through August. Source of image: National Weather Service
Figure 3:

The forecast suggests that drought conditions will persist up to September, so I would urge my fellow islanders conserve water, as it seems as if conditions will get worse before they get better.

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15. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
8:04 PM GMT on November 25, 2014
nigel20 has created a new entry.
14. BaltimoreBrian
8:15 PM GMT on November 04, 2014
Has Jamaica been getting decent rains lately?
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 10169
13. VirginIslandsVisitor
11:22 AM GMT on October 11, 2014
Quoting 12. BaltimoreBrian:

How is the Chikungunya virus situation in Jamaica?

I found this article from yesterday--

Chikungunya: This virus loves our filthy island

Geez, I went to that link, Brian. I don't quite know what to think about that article/author.

Nigel, on the other side of the coin, I did a blog on the Chikungunya Virus. I am hearing that you guys are getting hit pretty bad with it too!

Member Since: July 30, 2011 Posts: 3 Comments: 748
12. BaltimoreBrian
3:46 AM GMT on October 11, 2014
How is the Chikungunya virus situation in Jamaica?

I found this article from yesterday--

Chikungunya: This virus loves our filthy island
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 10169
11. BaltimoreBrian
3:30 AM GMT on October 11, 2014
I hope this verifies--

Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 10169
10. BaltimoreBrian
3:20 AM GMT on October 11, 2014
Is the drought getting better?

Here's an article I found, the extracted quote is alarming.

Fish moving poleward at rate of 26 kilometres per decade

"The tropics will be the overall losers," says William Cheung, associate professor at the UBC Fisheries Centre and co-author of this study. "This area has a high dependence on fish for food, diet and nutrition. We'll see a loss of fish populations that are important to the fisheries and communities in these regions."
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 10169
9. pcola57
10:57 AM GMT on September 18, 2014
Hey nigel..
It's now September 18..
How's they drought situation?
Nice blog.. :)
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6927
8. nigel20
7:50 PM GMT on August 05, 2014
Hi Luis! Great news, I was looking at the San Juan radar rainfall estimates, and it showed widespread accumulations of 1 inch or higher.

Here in Jamaica, we had two consecutive days of rain. Not enough to overcome the drought, but it's better than nothing.
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 8908
7. Tropicsweatherpr
10:21 AM GMT on August 04, 2014
Hi nigel. Good news after TS Bertha passed us is the lakes went up and rationing of water was suspended until the end of the month. Let's see if the waves bring more rain in the coming weeks to not have it later on.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 15590
6. nigel20
12:20 AM GMT on August 01, 2014
Hi Barbara! Yes, we are getting rain for the second consecutive day. Thankfully!

Thanks for the link, something that we should keep an eye on.
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 8908
5. barbamz
9:37 PM GMT on July 30, 2014
Well, though I'm sure you know about the danger of landslides or have already read the news below, I just want to contribute it to you blog with a "hello".
Of course, first you should get your much needed rain, I hope! The amount of droughts all over the world is really worrisome!

Trouble looms once rains come
Cornel Bogle, Gleaner Intern, published: Wednesday | July 30, 2014
While most of Jamaica's authorities are focused on finding solutions to the current drought and water crisis, some experts are concerned about hazards that might emerge once the rains return.
Norman Harris, acting deputy commissioner at the Mines and Geology Division in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, has warned that the drought that has been affecting the island has made eastern parishes more susceptible to landslides.
Harris told The Gleaner that in light of recent wildfires, he would not be surprised if the return of heavy rainfall triggered landslides. ...

Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 70 Comments: 7720
4. nigel20
6:58 PM GMT on July 24, 2014
Hi Luis, thanks for the update regarding the Puerto Rican drought. Forecast models are hinting at the possibility showers in early August, let's hope that it pans out.
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 8908
3. Tropicsweatherpr
2:16 PM GMT on July 24, 2014
Here is the latest from the U.S Monitor update for PR. Moderate drought continues and has expanded to two more town areas.

In Puerto Rico, scattered light to moderate showers (0.5 to 2 inches) fell on western and eastern sections of the island, keeping conditions status-quo there. In central sections, however, subnormal rainfall and a reservoir with low water levels justified extending D1 northeastward into Coamo and Villaba Municipalities.

Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 15590
2. nigel20
11:30 PM GMT on July 19, 2014
Thanks Nathan! Yes, 2009/2010 was dry, but I can't remember it being this dry.
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 8908
1. Astrometeor
11:27 PM GMT on July 19, 2014
Good post Nigel! Seems like you guys are rapidly catching up with California, unfortunately.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 106 Comments: 10969

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About nigel20

Electrical Engineering student that is interested in weather, especially tropical.

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