Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Severe water deficits forecast for Baja & Sonora

26 April 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast ending December 2017 (below) indicates moderate to extreme water deficits in Mexico’s southern half and in the northern Baja Peninsula. Deficits are also forecast for Guatemala, El Salvador, and western Honduras.

Surpluses are forecast for eastern Haiti into western Dominican Republic, and Camaguey, Cuba.

Responding to drought in Yucatán, Mexico, the state government has implemented relief schemes to aid producers of cattle and honey. Three thousand tons of livestock feed was delivered under one program, and 119.6 tons authorized for livestock feed and 450.6 tons of sugar for beekeepers under another. The temperature reached 40°C (104°F) in Mérida, Yucatán in early April and dry conditions contributed to fires in Tekax, Tekit, and Tzucacab which damaged 1,065 hectares (2,632 acres); and in Río Lagartos Biosphere Reserve which affected 1,304 hectares (3,222 acres); along with 1,149 reports of smaller fires totaling 2,615 hectares (6,462 acres).

At least 10 municipalities in the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico are in severe drought, reports Conaga Frontera Sur, the southern regional division of the country's national water commission. In addition to affecting agriculture the drought has dried artesian wells that provide community drinking water. For the past three years rainfall in Chiapas has been 40 percent below normal. Residents of Ocozocoautla, Chiapas, protesting the lack of potable water and price of piped water, occupied the town hall, set fire to several offices and a car, and temporarily held two employees of the municipal water system hostage until police arrived.

As of April 10, reservoirs remained low in Guantanamo, Cuba - 32 percent of capacity, the lowest in 9 years.

Heavy rains in Clarendon, Jamaica affected 5,000 people and left 1,000 homes flooded. Some residents had to be rescued by swimmers, as flood waters rose rapidly.

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

The forecast for April through June indicates that exceptional deficits observed Mexico in the prior three months will nearly disappear, though moderate deficits are expected to persist in Chiapas, Tabasco, and into neighboring states. Severe deficits are forecast to emerge in the Baja Peninsula – with exceptional deficits in the southern tip – and across the Gulf of California into Sonora. Some moderate deficits will emerge in Guatemala during this period. Surpluses are forecast for eastern Haiti into western Dominican Republic.

From July through September moderate to extreme deficits will re-emerge in southern Mexico and may be particularly intense in pockets of Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca, southern Veracruz, and Chiapas. Severe deficits are forecast to persist in the northern Baja Peninsula while Baja California Sur returns to near-normal conditions. Deficits are also forecast for Guatemala, El Salvador, western Honduras, western Nicaragua, northern Costa Rica, and Jamaica.

The final quarter of the forecast period indicates the continued emergence of moderate to severe 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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