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

24 August 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast ending April 2019 (below) indicates severe to exceptional water deficits in southern Mexico. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast in the central north, and some moderate surpluses are expected in Sonora.

In Central America, moderate to severe deficits are forecast for Guatemala and El Salvador. Some pockets of moderate surplus are forecast in southeastern Guatemala and Nicaragua.

In the Caribbean, severe deficits are forecast for western Cuba, and surpluses are expected in central Cuba.

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

The August through October map above indicates the emergence of significant deficits in southern Mexico, and are expected to be exceptional in Puebla, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Chiapas, and Campeche. Moderate deficits are forecast for Tamaulipas, and severe deficits will persist in the northern Baja Peninsula. Moderate to severe surpluses will emerge in eastern and southern Sonora.

Deficits will reach into Central America, with moderate to severe deficits forecast for Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, and western Nicaragua. Surpluses are forecast for southeastern Nicaragua, eastern Costa Rica, and Panama.

In the Caribbean, deficits will downgrade to mild in western Cuba, will spread and intensify somewhat in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with some severe pockets. Conditions in Jamaica are forecast to transition from surplus to extreme deficit.

From November through January exceptional deficits will shrink considerably in southern Mexico, though deficits will remain widespread and severe in the region, with a pocket of exceptional intensity persisting in Campeche. Deficits will spread in Central America – reaching deeper into Nicaragua, and into Costa Rica and Panama – and are expected to be primarily moderate to severe. Deficits in Baja will downgrade to mild. Surpluses will persist in Sonora and will emerge along the Rio Grande. Conditions in the Caribbean will downgrade to mild deficits.

The forecast for the final three months – February through April – indicates that deficits in southern Mexico and Central America will see an uptick in intensify, with more pockets of exceptional deficit. Surpluses will diminish in Sonora but persist along the Rio Grande.

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

IMPACTS
El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua have gone long periods with no rain since June, threatening food security of millions of Central Americans. While dry conditions are expected in this region in August, this year’s dry period, or canícula, began much earlier than normal, causing crop losses amounting to $37 million in El Salvador, and $44.5 million in Guatemala. Eastern El Salvador went over a month without rain while temperatures peaked at 41 degrees C (107.6 degrees F) last month, leading the country to take emergency measures. Guatemalan dignitaries requested that the government declare a state of emergency, while a parliament member conjectured that 40 days without rain will result in a 78 percent loss of basic crops.

Over the last two years, drought in Panama has caused over $72 million in agricultural losses. Over 5,000 hectares (over 13,000 acres) of corn and rice were lost in the 2015-2016 season, when the country faced one of its worst dry seasons in 100 years.

Costa Rica will begin a $457.8 million project to deliver water to the dry northwestern region of Guanacaste. Guanacaste historically receives little rain relative to the rest of the country, but in recent decades the dryness has been exacerbated and has strained the region’s population and its farmers. The proposal for the project had been pending since 1983.

Jamaica’s National Water Commission reported that a treatment plant in Manchester Parish is at 65 percent capacity, causing interruptions in service to some customers.

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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