Mexico, Central America & the Caribbean: Water surplus to persist in Nicaragua

29 November 2017

The 12-month forecast ending July 2018 (below) indicates severe to exceptional deficits in western Cuba. Deficits are also forecast in pockets across northern Mexico, and are expected to be more intense in Baja, Sonora, and Tamaulipas.

Surpluses ranging from moderate to exceptional are forecast for El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, northern Costa Rica, central Cuba, and Jamaica. 

Cuba's sugar harvest is expected to be lower than last year, impacted by both an 18-month drought and the passage of Hurricane Irma in September. The harvest has just begun but state sugar monopoly, Azcuba, estimates production at 1.5 million tons, down from last year's 1.8 million tons. Irma destroyed 40 percent of the cane plantations and damaged nearly a third of the sugar mills.

Heavy rains hit Nicaragua in late October, creating torrential flooding that damaged homes, roads, and bridges, and triggered power outages in Boaco, Managua, and Granada. At least nine deaths were reported and authorities evacuated 8,000 people. Evacuations were ordered in nearby Honduras as well, and the storm forced closure of the capital city's airport. Agricultural losses from flooding in Honduras are estimated to be in the millions, affecting bananas, sugarcane, rice, and African palm. 

Officials report that flows on Agua Azules Waterfalls in Chiapas, Mexico dropped by 85 percent in recent weeks, citing Mexico's September 7 earthquake as a possible contributing factor. The seismic activity or sedimentation due to deforestation may have shifted flows from the river's right arm, which feeds the falls, to the left arm. Agua Azules Waterfalls provides drinking water for 2,400 people, and nearly 200,000 visitors contribute to the local economy. Federal, state, and local authorities have since collaborated to restore flows to the cascades, and though the situation presented no immediate physical danger, it did threaten tourism dollars to the region.

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

Please note that we are well aware of the recent devastation wrought by hurricanes. Readers are advised that inputs used in our Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM), the model used to generate “Global Water Monitor and Forecast Watch List,” have been proven reliable in forecasting broad precipitation patterns, but are not effective for predicting singular events such as tropical storms. Detailed outlooks and analyses of tropical storms are available from NOAA National Hurricane Center.

Though the extent of exceptional surpluses in Central America is forecast to diminish from November through January, significant surpluses are expected in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Surpluses are also forecast for central Cuba and Jamaica. Deficits in the northern Baja Peninsula will downgrade to mild, but some moderate deficits are expected to emerge in the south. Deficits will continue to emerge in pockets across northern Mexico, diminishing in Sonora but emerging with greater severity to the east in Chihuahua. Surpluses in northern Coahuila and Nuevo Leon will begin to transition to both deficit and surplus as deficits emerge. Moderate surpluses along Mexico’s southern Pacific coast will begin to transition to moderate deficits, and deficits will continue to emerge farther inland across southern Mexico and south into Guatemala.

From February through April exceptional deficits are forecast to emerge in Jalisco on Mexico’s southern Pacific coast; deficits across the northern states will diminish leaving primarily moderate deficits in southern Baja and radiating from the shared borders of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango. Some pockets of surplus may re-emerge in southern Mexico in Puebla and Oaxaca. Surpluses will persist in the afore-mentioned areas of Central America but as some regions begin transitioning to deficit, both surpluses and deficits (purple) are indicated.

The forecast for the final three months – May through July – indicates emerging deficits in northern Baja and a significant retreat of surpluses in Central America.

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

There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers. 


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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