The Big Picture
As the 12-month map (below) indicates, much of Mexico from February 2016 through January 2017 has or will experience drier than normal conditions. The exceptional deficits in Baja and across the Gulf of California, however, reflect observed conditions for the past three months, while deficits of lesser severity are forecast for the next nine months.
According to Conagua, Mexico's national water authority, as of mid-April 452 municipalities have been affected by drought. Of the 26 out of 31 afflicted states the worst hit has been the state of Baja California, the northernmost state on the Baja Peninsula. An ocean water desalination plant is under construction in La Chorera, Baja California, and another in Ensenada, both of which are scheduled to open in 2017.
In southern Mexico's Chiapas state rivers have dried up, water rationing is being enforced, and tap water is available only one or two days a week. Tanker trucks deliver water to some communities and bottled water prices are being monitored.
El Salvador declared a drought emergency in April for the first time in its history. River and water reserve levels reached a critical state and residents of San Salvador protested water shortages. Drought, combined with disease and lack of investment could reduced the country's coffee exports by $15 million.
A drought warning is in effect in southwestern Belize, where dry conditions have delayed corn planting and shrunk creeks that feed pastures.
The 3-month maps (below) for the same time period show the evolving conditions in more detail. As the May through July map illustrates, deficits on the Baja Peninsula are expected to diminish in severity, though not in extent, from exceptional (greater than 40 years) to primarily moderate (5-10 year expected frequency of occurrence). Similarly, deficits in southern Mexico will diminish in severity. In Central America moderate deficits will emerge in Guatemala and El Salvador.
From August through October deficits in Baja will increase in severity as will deficits in a wide inland arc through the state of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico. Moderate to severe deficits will continue to emerge in Central America from Belize through northern Nicaragua. Moderate surpluses are forecast along the Atlantic Coast of Costa Rica and in western Panama. Deficits are forecast during this period for eastern Jamaica and in Haiti.
(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)
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