MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA, & THE CARIBBEAN: DEFICITS IN BAJA TO DOWNGRADE BUT REMAIN SEVERE

24 May 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast ending January 2019 (right) indicates moderate to severe deficits in many parts of Mexico with exceptional deficits in northern Baja. Some surpluses are forecast along rivers in central and eastern Sonora. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for Guatemala, El Salvador, western Honduras, western Nicaragua, and Hispaniola.

Surpluses are forecast for eastern Honduras, eastern Nicaragua, eastern 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 some pockets of intense deficits will emerge in southern Baja while deficits in the remainder of the Peninsula downgrade somewhat to severe. Across the Gulf of California moderate deficits are forecast along the coast of the mainland, in the north-central states of Chihuahua and Coahuila, in Tamaulipas in the east, in central Mexico from Jalisco to Michoacán encompassing Lago de Chapala, and along the Gulf of Mexico from Veracruz into Yucatan. Moderate surpluses are forecast in southwestern Chihuahua, central Durango, near Puerto Vallarta, western Oaxaca, and eastern Quintana Roo.

Surpluses in Central America will shrink considerably but persist in northern Honduras, eastern Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and western Panama. Some moderate deficits are forecast for Guatemala and El Salvador. In the Caribbean, intense surplus conditions are forecast for Jamaica and central Cuba. Moderate to severe deficits are forecast for Haiti and Dominican Republic.

From August through October, deficits in Baja will nearly disappear, though moderate deficits will persist in the north. Moderate surpluses may emerge along the Rios Yaqui, Bavispe, and Batepito in Sonora, with nearly normal conditions in much of the rest of northern Mexico. Moderate to severe deficits are forecast in Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, becoming more intense in central and southern Mexico, particularly in Veracruz, Puebla, and Chiapas. Moderate to extreme deficits are forecast for Guatemala, El Salvador, western Honduras, and western Nicaragua. Surpluses are expected along Honduras’ easternmost coast, in southeastern Nicaragua, and in much of Panama. Some moderate deficits are forecast for Jamaica, Haiti, and Dominican Republic.

The forecast for the final three months – November through January – indicates that deficits in the region will downgrade somewhat; surpluses will persist in Sonora and emerge along the Rio Grande.

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

IMPACTS
A large water treatment company has plans to build a desalination plant in Baja California, a region of Mexico that has been in drought since 2014. Located in San Quintín, Mexico, the project aims to generate US $10 million annually by selling desalinated seawater to the town of 100,000 over the next 30 years, before transferring ownership to the state water commission.

Across the Gulf of California from Baja, the State of Sonora has also been in the grips of a drought. As of April 15, the drought monitor report released by Conagua, Mexico's national water commission, indicated that 72 percent of Sonora was in extreme or severe drought. Low water levels at dams serving the Yaqui and Mayo irrigated agricultural regions prevented cultivation of 120,000 hectares of crops.

Drought is affecting milk production in the State of Sinaloa, with some producers opting out entirely and others electing to feed livestock for meat production rather than milk, often a cheaper alternative. The instability of milk prices is also cited as a factor.

The southern Honduran city of Choluteca is in a drought, strained by massive seasonal demand for water by sugarcane growers in the area. Drought has been a recurring problem for Choluteca's 200,000 residents and farming sector in recent decades, in contrast with the generally sufficient water resources in northern Honduras, and has been exacerbated by poor water management. The depleted Choluteca River has been under private concession for nearly five years, leaving the municipality with no current control.

Heavy rains pelted the Caribbean early this month, causing a number of deaths and displacing thousands of people. In Haiti, flood and landslide warnings were issued for five consecutive days. At least three people were killed and several homes destroyed. In Kingston, Jamaica, 128 millimeters (5 inches) of rain fell in just 6 hours, far surpassing the average monthly May rainfall of 70 millimeters (2.75 inches). Flooding and mudslides destroyed several bridges and blocked dozens of roads.

Nearly 77,000 people in Guatemala were affected by downpours, and at least one person was killed.

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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