Tue | Oct 17, 2017

'Possible dry periods for Ja by year end'

Published:Friday | April 21, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

Preliminary weather-tracking models are not indicating any serious concern for drought at the end of June, however, climate service specialist Glenroy Brown, has said that temperatures are likely to be warmer than normal closer to the end of the year.

Scientist say that there is a small possibility of an El Nino developing as the year ends and this is what could influence the warmer-than-usual temperature later in the year. It is a situation that the Meteorological Services of Jamaica is currently monitoring.

The El Nino climate phenomenon occurs when a vast pool of water in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean becomes abnormally warm.

"What we are predicting is that globally, temperatures are still warmer than normal. The scientists are predicting that there is a small possibility that we could go back to one of those El Nino phenomenon close to the end of the year. What that is actually indicating is that the waters are expected to be warmer than normal," Brown told The Gleaner.

"The scientist are monitoring it very closely, but as it stands now, there is just a small possibility as it may be a weak El Nino by the end of the year. It's not so much a decline in rainfall this year, but it means a decline in the rainfall we would get in the dry season, which would be January of next year. Should it develop towards the end of the year, that would mean significant dry periods in Jamaica," he continued.

In giving an update on reported drought conditions, particularly in western parishes, he said preliminary information collected from the Met Service is showing some improvement.

... Improvement in the west

Earlier this year, Evan Thompson, head of the Met Service, declared a number of parishes as experiencing drought, but noted that Westmoreland and Hanover were most severe.

"We had some initial concerns from December going into March regarding western parishes, where we said they would have experienced some level of drought somewhere between severe to extreme. However, when we look at our latest forecast model now, it seem as if things are improving," he said.

"There have been reports from the fire department that since the start of the year, they have responded to more than 200 bush fires in Hanover alone. However, we can say with at least 70 per cent confidence, that the forecast going into the next three months is that those areas (west) that we have been monitoring will be seeing some improvement in terms of drought," Brown said.