MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA, & THE CARIBBEAN: WATER DEFICITS FORECAST BAJA, SONORA, NAYARIT

21 March 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast ending November 2018 (below) indicates severe to exceptional water deficits in Baja, Mexico. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for Chihuahua in the north, Tamaulipas along the Gulf and nearby states, and Puebla, Veracruz, and Yucatan in the south. Moderate deficits are also forecast for Guatemala and El Salvador.

Surplus is forecast for eastern Honduras, eastern Nicaragua, Costa Rica, western Panama, Jamaica, and central Cuba.

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

In the next few months deficits in Baja, Mexico will remain intense, with exceptional deficits emerging in the south. Extreme to exceptional deficits are also forecast for Sonora, Sinaloa, Durango, Nayarit, along with deficits slightly less severe in Chihuahua. Surpluses of varying severity will continue to emerge in pockets of southern Mexico leading into northern Guatemala and Belize, where conditions may be extreme. Severe to exceptional surplus is forecast for Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Jamaica, with surpluses of lesser intensity in El Salvador and western Panama.

From June through August, deficits in the southern Baja Peninsula will downgrade but remain severe in the north. Mexico’s west coast will transition from deficit to surplus from Sonora south through Jalisco. Deficits in Chihuahua will shrink and moderate. Moderate deficits will continue to emerge in central Mexico; southern Mexico will transition from surplus to moderate deficit, with severe deficits in southern Tamaulipas, Oaxaca, and Chiapas. Moderate deficits are expected to spread in Guatemala and emerge in El Salvador. Honduras and Nicaragua will transition from surplus to some moderate deficit, and conditions in Costa Rica will become nearly normal. Moderate deficits are forecast to emerge on Hispaniola and to persist in eastern Cuba.

The forecast for the final three months – September through November – indicates an uptick in the intensity of deficits around the Gulf of Mexico and the spread of deficits in Central America.

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

IMPACTS
The U.S. Virgin Islands' tourism commissioner reports that revenues will be down about 60 percent this year as the islands continue to recover from Irma and Maria, two Category 5 hurricanes that hit last September. Tourism constitutes roughly a third of the nation's GDP, and many top resorts are not expected to reopen until next year.

Over the past several months the Army Corps of Engineers has worked with local contractors in USVI to collect 736,000 cubic yards of hurricane debris on the three major islands - St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix - but how to dispose of that debris has become a point of contention. The Corps received pushback against a proposal to incinerate the debris in situ, with local environmentalists citing pollution concerns. USVI's legislature agreed, prohibiting the burn. The fate of the debris remains uncertain though the Corps' mission deadline, originally scheduled to end this month, has been extended 60 days.

The Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network is advising Antigua, Barbuda, and the Cayman Islands to closely monitor water resources as short term drought conditions may develop in those nations this year. 

The regional director of Mexico's National Water Commission warns that the state of Chihuahua could run out of water in the next 15 years if the use of its 61 aquifers doesn't change, citing over-exploitation of 19 aquifers and limited access to 42. The most severely affected aquifers include El Sauz-Encinillas, Aldama-San Diego, Tabalaopa-Aldama, Sacramento, Cuauhtémoc, Janos, Ascension, Jiménez, and Guerrero-Yepomera. The federal official recommended monitoring abuse, re-evaluation of water-intensive crops such as walnuts, and irrigation modernization.

Across Chihuahua's southern border, drought is affecting livestock producers in Durango as grazing lands dry up. Farmers are looking to the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, and Rural Development in the state for herd food supplements until pasture conditions improve. The drought has been particularly long-lasting in the northwestern part of the state.

Coffee growers in the state of Chiapas, Mexico are beginning to feel the effects of drought in the region, estimating that about 4,000 hectares (9,884 acres) of the crop are at risk, and proposing a formal crop census to aid intervention.

San José, Costa Rica will invest $3 million for flood impact mitigation. The municipality is targeting four points in the city vulnerable to flooding during the rainy season, with funding to address recurrent sewer collapse and river overflow. 

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.

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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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