Mexico, Central America & the Caribbean: Water deficits in southern Mexico, Jamaica

31 January 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast ending September 2017 (below) indicates scattered moderate water deficits across much of Mexico along with pockets of extreme to exceptional deficits in the Baja Peninsula, southern Mexico, and the Yucatan Peninsula. Deficits are also forecast for Guatemala.

Surpluses are forecast for eastern Honduras, Nicaragua, northern Costa Rica, and eastern Panama. Exceptional surpluses are forecast in Haiti.

Mexico’s National Meteorological Service reported that more than 85 percent of Chiapas was affected by drought in 2016, and that in the second half of December nine municipalities reported extreme drought – seven in Oaxaca and two in Baja California.

Oaxaca’s Central Valley aquifer – which supplies drinking water to more than half a million people – is in danger of being depleted in 25 years, according to the director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Research in Integral Regional Development of the National Polytechnic Institute, due to reduced rainfall, urban growth, and changes in land use.

Drought in Central America is pushing young people out of their hometowns, migrating internally to find better opportunities, say researchers from the World Bank, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the University of Illinois. While migration northward to the US has gained much attention, the researchers looked at internal displacement, which would suggest the importance of regional planning policies. 

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

The January through March forecast indicates persistent water deficits in southern Mexico including pockets of exceptional deficit in Michoacán, Guerrero, Puebla, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo. Scattered moderate deficits are forecast elsewhere in the country. Exceptional deficits on the Baja Peninsula are expected to nearly disappear. Moderate to severe deficits will persist in Guatemala, particularly in the south, and emerge in eastern Jamaica. Surpluses ranging from moderate to exceptional are forecast for eastern Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Haiti, and central Cuba.

From April through June water conditions in most of Mexico, including southern Mexico and the Yucatan, are forecast to be within the normal to moderate deficit range, with the exception of the Baja Peninsula where more severe deficits will re-emerge. Moderate deficits are expected to persist in Guatemala during this period. Conditions in Jamaica will return to near-normal. Aforementioned surpluses in Central America and the Caribbean are forecast to diminish in extent and severity and may transition to conditions of both surplus and deficit in Haiti.

The final quarter of the forecast period indicates the continued emergence of moderate to extreme deficits in the northern Baja Peninsula, southern Mexico, northern Central America, and Jamaica.

(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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