Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Significant water deficits forecast for southern Mexico

20 July 2018

The 12-month forecast ending March 2019 (below) indicates severe to exceptional water deficits in southern Mexico. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast in the central north, and some mild surpluses are expected along the border of Sonora and Chihuahua in the northwest.

In Central America, moderate to severe deficits are forecast for Guatemala and El Salvador. Surpluses are forecast in northeastern Honduras, central Nicaragua, and eastern Panama.

In the Caribbean, intense deficits are forecast for western Cuba and moderate deficits for much of Hispaniola. Surpluses are expected in central Cuba and Jamaica.

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

The July through September map above indicates the emergence of significant deficits in southern Mexico. Widespread extreme to exceptional deficits are expected to emerge in Michoacán, Guerrero, Puebla, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Chiapas, and along the Gulf shore of the Yucatan Peninsula. Deficits are also expected to be intense in Nayarit in the west and Tamaulipas in the east. Severe deficits will persist in the northern Baja Peninsula, moderate deficits are forecast in large pockets across northern Mexico, and moderate surpluses will emerge along the border of Sonora and Chihuahua.

Exceptional deficits will also reach into Central America, emerging in Guatemala, El Salvador, western Honduras, and with lesser intensity, Costa Rica. Surpluses are forecast for eastern Honduras, southeastern Nicaragua, and eastern Panama. In the Caribbean, deficits will downgrade somewhat in western Cuba but intensify in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Conditions in Jamaica are forecast to transition from surplus to deficit.

From October through December deficits will downgrade slightly in Nayarit and southern Mexico, though conditions will be severe to extreme. Deficits are expected to moderate in Tamaulipas and downgrade to merely mild in Baja and much of northern Mexico. Moderate surpluses will increase along the Sonora/Chihuahua border areas, and will emerge along the Rio Grande in Chihuahua. Moderate to extreme deficits are forecast for most of Central America. Deficits will become intense in Jamaica, but downgrade in Cuba, Haiti, and Dominican Republic.

The forecast for the final three months – January through March – indicates that deficits in southern Mexico and Central America will intensify, with more pockets of exceptional deficit. Moderate surpluses will emerge in northern Baja and eastern Mexico, and along the Rio Grande to the Gulf.

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

Mexico's national water commission, Conagua, reports that, as of the end of June, 52 municipalities in the state of Veracruz are suffering drought conditions. Anticipating water shortages, the state water authorities began sending water trucks to 25 municipalities earlier in the month. In the community of Agua Dulce, several dozen head of cattle have died and 10,000 are underweight due to drought and extremely high temperatures. Ranchers there have begun de-stocking to avoid further loss amid concerns that include potential losses from grass fires.

In San Cristóbal de las Casas, a highland town in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, soda is more readily available than water. Citizens consume over two liters of cola per day on average, amounting to a devastating public health crisis. Aggressive marketing campaigns over the last half century have contributed to the mass consumption, but public frustration is now growing. Changing precipitation patterns have altered water availability in the artesian wells that have supplied the town for generations. The local bottling plant that produces Coca-Cola has permits to extract over 300,000 gallons of water per day. That, combined with a 30 percent rise in the diabetes mortality rate, caused protestors last year to demand that the government close the plant.

The Jamaican government is allocating $30 million (USD $2.3 million) to distribute water to its drought-affected parishes. A multi-million dollar water storage facility was commissioned this month at an infirmary in St. Elizabeth parish, one of three parishes in which a drought alert has been issued by the Meteorological Service of Jamaica. The project, which stores 10,000 gallons of rainwater, is funded by international aid and the Jamaican government.

Tropical Storm Carlotta formed off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico last month and spurred heavy rains across four Mexican states. At least seven flood-related deaths were reported. Rushing water caused a landslide in the Guanajuato state, and to the northwest in Aguascalientes over 70 shelters were opened to accommodate residents displaced from their homes.

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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