Sun | Jul 5, 2020

Forecasters predict relief from drought as Atlantic hurricane season approaches

Published:Thursday | May 28, 2020 | 12:26 PM

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Regional forecasters say they expect some drought relief over the coming weeks as the wet season, which largely coincides with the Atlantic Hurricane Season, starts on Monday.

They have, however, presented two “undesirable scenarios” that includes significant heat stress, and high flood potential for the region.

In its Wet/Hurricane Season 2020 Caribbean Climate Outlooks Forum, held virtually on Wednesday amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology said that between June and August, drought relief is expected across the region.

The agency says in the short term through June, the drought relief is expected to affect soil moisture, small streams and small reservoirs.

Slower long-term drought relief will affect groundwater, very large rivers and water reservoirs.

However, even as the Caribbean can expect some relief from the drought, which has resulted in water emergencies in some countries and extensive rationing in others, forecasters said that heat discomfort will increase towards August.

The institute says the potential for flooding and flash floods will increase from June to late-August across the Caribbean Islands, but decrease during August in the Guianas (French Guianas, Guyana and Suriname), which would then be into its dry season.

In the two “undesirable scenarios”, scenario one is a wetter-than-usual wet seasons in which lessened daytime heat stress and drought relief comes sooner, but night-time heat discomfort remains, and particularly high flood potential and hurricane season activity by late-August.

In the second scenario, the season is not wetter than usual, flood potential and hurricane season activity remain at normal levels, but there is a strong build-up of heat stress and slower drought relief.

Forecasters said that between September and November, they anticipate strong hurricane season activity through October and possibly among the strongest in recent decades.

Heat stress is expected to peak in September, with cooler temperatures expected from November onwards when heat discomfort should sharply decrease.

The potential for flooding and flash floods is high and should be of particular concern if a La Niña manifests.

Region-wide, long-term drought concerns should ease by the end of November, but small pockets may remain.

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