Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Deficits to moderate in W Cuba, emerge in Oaxaca

19 December 2017


The 12-month forecast ending August 2018 (above) indicates severe to exceptional water deficits in western Cuba, and deficits of varying severity across northern Mexico which are expected to be intense in northern Baja, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas.

Severe to exceptional surpluses are forecast for Honduras, Nicaragua, northern Costa Rica, central Cuba, and Jamaica. 

The Jamaican city of Montego Bay experienced extensive damage from heavy flooding due to torrential rainfall in late November. An emergency disbursement of $20 million (~US$16 million) by the Ministry of Local Government helped restore the downtown area within several days. Opposition party spokesmen are now calling for comprehensive flood mitigation policies and strategies from the Jamaica Labour Party government. Local government officials blamed issues of squatting, illegal building construction, and associated drain blockage.

Approximately 1.32 million Haitians need food assistance due to recurrent droughts since 2014 and hurricanes Matthew and Irma in 2016 and 2017, according to the FAO (United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization). The agency's most recent Quarterly Global Report on worldwide crop prospects and food security indicates that of the 37 countries experiencing food insecurity worldwide, Haiti is the only country on the list located in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Cuba's sugar industry faced grim prospects at the onset of cane harvest in late November due to this year’s drought and hurricane impacts. Harvest estimates vary widely by province, with central Villa Clara province, hit hardest by the storm, expected to be short by 73,000 metric tons (about 80,500 US tons), relative to its 273,000 metric ton harvest last year.

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.

The extent of exceptional surplus in Central America is forecast to diminish slightly December through February but significant surpluses are expected in Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica. Surpluses are also forecast for central Cuba and Jamaica.

Intense deficits across northwestern Mexico will moderate. Both deficits and surpluses are expected in northeastern Coahuila and northern Nuevo Leon as deficits emerge where exceptional surpluses were recently observed. Severe deficits are expected to emerge coast-to-coast from Jalisco on the Pacific through Michoacán, Guanajuato, Puebla, and Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico, though both deficits and surpluses will also appear as deficits move in. Oaxaca, too, could see severe deficits, and deficits in nearby Chiapas could reach exceptional intensity along the Grijalva River around the Belisario Dominguez Dam (Angostura Dam). Moderate deficits will emerge in southern Guatemala and deficits in Cuba will moderate.

From March through May deficits in Baja and Sonora are expected to intensify, especially southern Baja. Across the central north of Mexico deficits will become severe along the border of Chihuahua and Coahuila. Exceptional deficits are forecast to emerge in Nayarit. Much of southern Mexico will return to nearly normal water conditions with scattered pockets of surplus. Severe to exceptional surpluses are expected to persist in Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica though conditions of both deficit and surplus are forecast for northeastern Nicaragua.   

The forecast for the final three months – June through August – indicates moderate deficits in Baja, eastern Mexico, and from the Yucatan through Guatemala.

(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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