Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Water deficits forecast for southern Mexico, surpluses in Nicaragua

October 26, 2016

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast through June 2017 (below) indicates moderate (5 to 10 years) water deficits in many parts of Mexico and small pockets of extreme (20 to 40 years) to exceptional (more than 40 years) deficits in southern Mexico, primarily in Michoacán and Oaxaca. Deficits are also forecast for Tamaulipas on the Gulf, Yucatan, and Guatemala. Moderate to severe (10 to 20 years) surpluses are forecast for eastern Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica.

Hurricane Matthew dominated the news in early October, reaching Haiti on October 4. The death toll is inconclusive, ranging from 271 to over 800. An estimated 1.4 million Haitians are in need of food assistance and officials are increasingly concerned about an upsurge in cholera from contaminated water in damaged systems.

More recently, flooding and landslides from heavy rain in mid-October caused one death, forced the evacuation of hundreds, and left many homes damaged in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama.

Drought continues in Guatemala, and the country's Secretary of Food and Nutrition Security estimates agricultural losses this year of 90 percent in corn and 60 percent in beans.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions in more detail.

As seen in the October through December map, deficits are forecast for much of southern Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, Tamaulipas, Baja California, and Guatemala. Small pockets of exceptional deficits are expected in Michoacán, Oaxaca, and near Cabo San Lucas in the southern tip of Baja California Sur. Deficits on the Baja Peninsula are forecast to diminish by December, but emerge again in April with particular severity in Baja California Sur. Moderate surpluses are forecast to persist in Nicaragua through December and Costa Rica through March.

From January through March the extent of deficits in Tamaulipas is forecast to shrink, while the severity of deficits on the Yucatan Peninsula, along the Gulf of Tehuantepec, and in Guatemala may increase slightly from moderate or severe to extreme. El Salvador is expected to transition from primarily normal conditions to moderate deficits. Surpluses will diminish in Nicaragua, and moderate surpluses will continue to emerge in Costa Rica.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)


Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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