Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Water deficits forecast for southern Mexico, Haiti

September 23, 2016 [Updated September 26, 2016]

The Big Picture
As seen in the 12-month map (below) water deficits are forecast in Mexico for the Baja Peninsula and in southern Mexico, especially between Michoacán in the west and Tabasco on the Gulf of Mexico. Deficits are also forecast for Guatemala and western Cuba. Moderate (5 to 10 years) surpluses are forecast for eastern Nicaragua, northern Costa Rica, and central Panama.

Flood conditions were reported in several locations along the Moho River in southern Belize in August, where waters rose to 15 feet (4.57 meters) above bridge level in one village.

In September heavy rains in Costa Rica flooded 135 homes and caused over 100 incidents of overflowed river banks and clogged sewer systems.

Flooding on the Zarati River in Panama swept two girls to their deaths, and shut down a water treatment plant in Penonomé leaving 22,000 without water for four days. The Santa Maria River also overflowed due to heavy rainfall and flights were suspended at Marcos Gelabert Airport.

A demonstration by Unión Campesina Oaxaqueña (UCO) over government compensation promised to 500 farmers affected by drought last year in Oaxaca, Mexico closed the Pan American highway in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec for 30 hours. Officials from Secretaría de Desarrollo Agropecuario, Pesca y Alimentación (Secretariat of Agricultural Development, Fisheries and Food) subsequently met with UCO representatives to remit 1500MXN per hectare (US$76).

Prolonged drought has forced more than a million people in Cuba to rely on water from government tank trucks during this record hot summerReservoir levels are well below capacity, according to the country's civil defense system, which has been placed on alert.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions. Deficits on the Baja Peninsula are forecast to diminish by November, but emerge again in April. Deficits in southern Mexico are expected to persist from Michoacán in the west through Tabasco on the Gulf of Mexico – a highly populated band. Deficits will also persist in Guatemala; elevate from abnormal (5 to 10 years) to moderate in El Salvador and into western Honduras; and continue to emerge in Haiti. Surpluses are forecast in northeastern Sonora, Mexico. Surpluses from Nicaragua through Panama will diminish in severity.

From December through February mostly moderate deficits are forecast to persist in southern Mexico, primarily between the Gulf of Mexico in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Tehuantapec in the Pacific. Deficits in Guatemala and El Salvador are forecast to become severe (10 to 20 years) in southern Guatemala and much of El Salvador. With the exception of northern Costa Rica, aforementioned surpluses in Central America are forecast to diminish.

Deficits are forecast to emerge on the Baja Peninsula in April, and surpluses are forecast for Tamaulipas and Quintana Roo, Mexico from March through May.

(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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