Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Severe water deficits forecast for Nayarit and Tabasco

29 August 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast ending April 2018 (below) indicates moderate drought throughout much of Mexico a pocket of exceptional water deficit north of Puerto Vallarta. Deficits are also forecast in western Cuba.

Surpluses are forecast for the border of Guatemala and Honduras, and Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Surpluses may be most severe in Costa Rica.

In its Climate Monitoring Bulletin Cuba's Institute of Meteorology reports that 43 percent of the country lacked sufficient rainfall during the first half of 2017. Water shortages have slowed rice production in Ciego de Ávila where only 1,402 hectares were sown, little more than half the target. Russia has agreed to provide Cuba with an aircraft equipped for cloud-seeding to artificially induce rainfall from October through November. 

The federal government of Mexico will pay 20 million pesos (US $1,135,306) to compensate more than 2,800 drought-hit livestock farmers in Nayarit.

Drought has also affected livestock producers in the San Fernando Valley of Tamaulipas, Mexico, withering pastureland, increasing cattle deathsand forcing sell-off of calves before they reach market maturity. A federal program of support to encourage livestock production provided ranchers with 2 thousand pesos per hectare of cultivated fodder at its inception, but that amount was reduced to 90 pesos this year. Temperatures reached 45°C (113°F) in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas, leaving parts of the local water channels completely dry in mid-August.

Though the size of the 2017 orange harvest in Tamaulipas is not expected to be reduced by the drought, dry conditions will negatively impact flowering which could reduce next year's production by as much as 50 percent, according to the leader of the local citrus growers association. The citrus harvest contributes significantly to state wages each year.

Nicaragua's National Board for Risk Management (MNGR) says that recurring drought and its product, poverty, in the "Dry Corridor" along the Pacific is spurring migration eastward towards the Caribbean coast, transforming forested land of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve into farmland, destroying its ecosystem and dragging the Dry Corridor farther east.

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

The August through October forecast shows the retreat of intense deficits in Mexico and western Cuba. However, severe to exceptional deficits are forecast in northern Baja, in Nayarit on the west coast, and peppered along the Gulf of Mexico from Tamaulipas through Veracruz and Tabasco and into Hidalgo and Oaxaca. Moderate deficits are forecast for Michoacán. Exceptional surpluses may persist on the border of Guatemala and Honduras, and surpluses of generally lesser severity are forecast for Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and western Jamaica. Surpluses may emerge in west-central Mexico in southern Durango into Zacatecas.

After October deficits ranging from moderate to occasionally exceptional will continue to emerge in southern Mexico between the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Tehuantepec with greatest severity expected in coastal Oaxaca. Mostly moderate deficits are forecast in the north at the intersection of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango, and also in Nayarit, and in Guatemala and El Salvador. Surpluses elsewhere in Central America are forecast to diminish to near-normal conditions.

The forecast for the final months – February through April – shows the continued presence of deficits in large pockets of Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

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

Note on Administrative Boundaries
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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