Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Water deficits in Baja California & Nayarit

25 May 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast ending January 2018 (below) indicates water deficits in the Baja Peninsula, southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and western Honduras. Deficits are expected to be especially severe in the northern half of the Baja Peninsula and in a pocket on Mexico’s central Pacific coast north of Puerto Vallarta.

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

Lack of rainfall in Oaxaca, Mexico has reduced the water supply to thousands of families in the capital and surrounding metropolitan area where many municipalities are receiving drinking water only once every three or four weeks for a few hours a day. As of mid-May 336 of 570 municipalities in the state reported some level of drought, with 31 critical in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

About 300 head of cattle have died in one mountain community in the state of Guerrero, says the director of Rural Development Zihuatanejo, in what he described as the worst drought in 30 years. The loss is significant for the peasant households who raise the animals primarily for their own consumption.

Farther north in Sinalao state, cattle farmers are also increasingly concerned about the possibility of losing livestock due to lack of water and fodder

On May 5 in Managua, Nicaragua 25 days' worth of rain fell in just 2 hours - 140 mm (5.5 inches) - flooding 461 homes, several main roads, and damaging drainage systems still under construction. Heavy rains also caused flooding in Santa Ana, El Salvador, inundating streets and dragging cars away in the currents.

Experts at Nicaragua's Humboldt Center, an NGO, are warning that in the coming years there will be less water in the country's reservoirs due to evaporation caused by increasing temperatures and decreasing recharge capacity from less rainfall, threatening hydro-electric production targets. Hydro-electric generation currently meets 9.1 percent of demand according to the Ministry of Energy and Mines. Data supplied by Nicaragua to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) indicates that hydro-electric production could decrease in the next five years by 36.88 percent in an optimistic scenario and by 57.24 percent in a pessimistic scenario. 

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

Though the forecast for May through July indicates the presence of deficits in Mexico, these deficits are expected to be primarily moderate, a significant improvement over conditions of exceptional deficit in the prior three months. However, severe deficits are forecast in Baja California – the Peninsula’s northern half – and in Nayarit.  Moderate deficits are forecast for northwestern Mexico, scattered down the Pacific coast and central Mexico, and in Yucatan, Tabasco, and Chiapas. Moderate deficits are also forecast for southern Guatemala. Surpluses may persist in central Hispaniola.

From August through October moderate deficits will continue to emerge in Mexico’s southern states, and severe deficits are expected in Baja California and Oaxaca. Moderate to severe water surpluses are forecast to emerge in the north along the border of Sonora and Chihuahua. Elsewhere in the region, primarily moderate deficits are forecast for Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and eastern Jamaica. Moderate surpluses are forecast in central Panama.

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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