Wed | Mar 29, 2023

Forecasters predict possible flooding in the Caribbean this Christmas

Published:Thursday | November 24, 2022 | 4:37 PM
Van Meerbeeck said no major droughts are forecast for any part of the region during the upcoming dry season. - File photo

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – The Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology (CIMH) is warning the region that recent heavy rains could continue into December and pose a risk for flooding during one of the most joyous seasons of the year.

“This year, flooding is a bigger risk in December than in other years,” CIMH climatologist Cédric Van Meerbeeck told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) about the regional outlook for the dry season, which begins December 1.

“I'm not saying it's going to flood in your area, but what I'm saying is keep checking the weather reports in your country to make sure that that doesn't happen to you, without you knowing about it.”

Speaking to CMC at the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF), taking place in Barbados, Van Meerbeeck cautioned that while Christmas is traditionally a period where people like to think joyous things and “might not always pay as much attention to the weather as we normally would during the hurricane season, for instance”, heavy rain in December is not unheard of.

He reminded that in 2013, Christmas Eve floods led to death and destruction in St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia.

Van Meerbeeck said no major droughts are forecast for any part of the region during the upcoming dry season.

"That's a positive but, on the other hand, we're getting out of the wet season with soils that, in many places, are quite drenched. So that means that if in the next weeks we get a lot of rainfall, even though we're entering the dry season, we might still see flash floods wherever that extreme rainfall occurs,” he explained.

He said that the highest risk is in Guianas and in the southern parts of the islands.

“So, in the ABC islands of Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, in Trinidad and Tobago, in Grenada, in Barbados, and then less so as you go further north.”

The climatologist said the globe is experiencing La Nina – a meteorological event where surface temperatures or ocean temperatures in the Pacific are cooler than usual – which tends to “influence our weather patterns at the seasonal timescale here”.

He noted that during La Nina, the Caribbean typically experiences wetter years as well as a stronger end part of the hurricane season.

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