Mexico, Central America & the Caribbean: Water deficits ahead for Mexico, southern Guatemala

17 February 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast ending October 2017 (below) indicates predominantly moderate water deficits across much of Mexico along with pockets of extreme to exceptional deficits in southern Mexico. Deficits are also forecast for Guatemala and El Salvador.

Surpluses are forecast for eastern Honduras, Nicaragua, northern Costa Rica, and Haiti.


The president of Cuba's National Institute of Water Resources says that droughts in the country are becoming more frequent and of longer duration, appearing once every three years rather than every five years. Drought in Cuba currently affects 80 percent of municipalities, with 53 facing extreme drought, according to the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources. The worst hit provinces are Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos and Camagüey. Officials are closely monitoring the situation in Santiago de Cuba, where a desalination plant is being constructed. To the east, reservoirs in Guantánamo province are low: Guantánamo reservoir is at 46 percent of capacity and La Yaya is at 20 percent.

Grand Cayman has experienced its driest year on record with wet season rainfall 50 percent of average, according to the Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network.

The Meteorological Services of Jamaica has declared drought in a number of parishes throughout the country, including Westmoreland and Hanover which are experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions. The government has recently allocated $385 million for projects to mitigate the effects of drought conditions impacting farmers.

“Climate change has become the biggest long-term threat to this city’s future," states Arnoldo Kramer, Mexico City’s chief resilience officer, framing the city's challenges in general and in particular its pending water crisis. The city is sinking as it drills deeper and deeper for water, and even the government acknowledges that nearly 20 percent of residents can’t count on getting water from their taps every day. 

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

The February through April forecast shows deficits emerging throughout Mexico with a vast expanse of predominantly severe deficits across northern Mexico including the Baja Peninsula, and pockets of extreme to exceptional deficits in the southern states and in Yucatan and Quintana Roo. Deficits are also forecast for southern Guatemala, Jamaica, eastern Cuba, eastern Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Surpluses are forecast in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, eastern Panama, and Haiti.

The forecast map for May through July shows much lighter shades of yellow and orange overall, indicating that deficits in the region are expected to diminish in severity. Moderate along with some severe deficits are forecast for the Baja Peninsula and in a wide swath of northwestern Mexico continuing through the southern states. Water conditions in Yucatan and Quintana Roo are expected to return to near-normal. Moderate deficits are forecast for Guatemala, El Salvador, and Panama. Near-normal conditions are forecast for much of the Caribbean, though both surpluses and deficits are forecast in Haiti.

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

(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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