Thu | Dec 12, 2019

Drought over, fair rainfall projected into 2020

Published:Saturday | November 2, 2019 | 12:17 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

The drought is over. That’s the word from Evan Thompson, head of the Meteorological Service Jamaica, based on the data collected for current rainfall patterns across the island.

That will be welcome news to Jamaica’s farming communities which have lamented the parched fields and withering crops amid less-than-normal rainfall this year.

Jamaica’s rainy seasons are in April-May and October.

The drought has also wreaked havoc on the water-storage facilities operated by the National Water Commission, particularly at its Mona and Hermitage reservoirs that supply significant swathes of urban centres in the southeast. Limited inflows, exacerbated by pipeline breaks, have triggered widespread water lock-offs across Kingston and St Andrew.

As at yesterday, the Mona Dam was at 82.4 per cent of capacity, while Hermitage rested at 98.0 per cent. Mona has a total capacity of 808.5 million gallons, while Hermitage holds 393.5 gallons.

“I can tell you that based on our September data, we can officially declare that the drought is over for the parishes that were experiencing drought,” said Thompson, who noted that the analysis of the data collected in September has just been completed.

“The forecast going forward for the next few months is that we will have about normal to maybe slightly above normal rainfall going into the end of the year and going into the beginning of next year, so it is looking favourable in that regard,” said Thompson, who added that 2019 has been a much drier year than 2018.

Thompson made the revelation while addressing a panel discussion at the Knockalva Polytechnic College in Ramble, Hanover.

CLIMATE CHANGE EDUCATION

Using maps, charts, and diagrams, Thompson linked the differences in current weather patterns with previous norms to explain the phenomenon of climate change.

“Climate change is real, a current reality, and something that we need to take note of. ... Education is part of the resilient strategy to face it,” said Thompson.

Thompson warned the country to get accustomed to evolving weather patterns with more unpredictable shifts in rainfall and other phenomena.

The meteorologist urged the nation to prepare for climate change and its threats by tapping into technological innovation.

“We (at the Met Service) are looking now to develop an index that will determine when bush fires are going to be developing because of weather conditions. It will come to fruition within the next few months. Secondly, we are installing a new radar to improve climate data and information management,”

Thompson also revealed that the weather agency was pursuing investigations into lightning detection, with a view to predicting strikes and promoting proactive measures.

There have been several lightning-related incidents in Jamaica over the past two months, causing the organisers of schoolboy football matches to adjust schedules to limit the likelihood of exposure.