Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Cool and less intense early dry season for the Caribbean

Published:Friday | November 27, 2020 | 10:29 AM
The agency, in its December 2020 to February 2021 Caribbean Climate Outlook Newsletter, said that conditions are being influenced by the La Niña effect - Contributed photo.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – The Barbados-based Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum is predicting that a “cool and less intense early dry season” will occur in the Caribbean. 

The dry season runs from about February to June.

In its December 2020 to February 2021 Caribbean Climate Outlook Newsletter, the agency said that La Niña conditions are in place leading to the cool and less intense early dry season except in The Bahamas and Cuba.

La Niña refers to the large-scale cooling of the ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, coupled with changes in the tropical atmospheric circulation, namely winds, pressure, and rainfall.

It usually has the opposite impacts on weather and climate as El Niño, which is the warm phase of the so-called El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

“In Belize and the Islands, flooding, flash flood, landslide, rockfall, and soil erosion potential will decrease from moderate in December to slight by January. In the Guianas, this potential will be high with an intense wet season” the forum noted.

It said that increasingly frequent, short dry spells are forecast – especially from Hispaniola westward -impacting unprotected crop farming and increasing wildfire potential.

Meanwhile, it said that from November 1, severe or worse shorter term drought has developed in western Puerto Rico, but eased in the previously affected area.

“Long-term drought should not be a significant concern in most-affected areas by the end of May in most areas.

However, at the end of May, long-term drought should evolve in southern parts of  Belize and northwest  Puerto  Rico, and may possibly develop or persist in eastern Cuba, eastern Dominican Republic, and southeast Puerto Rico.

In a brief climate outlook, the forum said that from March to May next year, the second half of the 2020-21 dry season – when water availability usually reaches its annual minimum – may still be influenced by La Niña.

“Wetter than usual conditions are likely in Barbados, Belize, the Guianas, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Windward Islands. However, it may end up even drier than usual in much of the Greater Antilles.

“Frequent dry spells may impact crop production, though less so in the areas ending up wetter than usual.

Temperatures usually remain comfortable through March, but tend to increase into the start of the heat season in April,” it added.

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