Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Water deficits forecast for Baja & Nayarit

29 January 2018

The 12-month forecast ending September 2018 (below) indicates severe to exceptional water deficits in Baja, Mexico. Pockets of deficit ranging from mild to severe are expected in a loose band across Mexico’s northern states and in a broad-reaching arc from the Gulf into the center of the country.

Severe to exceptional surpluses are forecast for Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and central Cuba. 

After two years of drought, Cuban reservoirs reached 83 percent of capacity at the end of 2017, replenished by above-average rainfall. A mixed blessing, increased precipitation over the last three months has negatively affected 70 percent of the country's sugar cane plantations by disrupting maturation and suppressing sucrose content.

Farmers in drought-stricken Baja California in northwestern Mexico continue to protest a multinational brewing company's planned factory in Mexicali that will require 20 million cubic meters of water per year, equivalent to a city of 750,000. Since July, farmers and civic groups have maintained a protest camp outside Constellation Brand's construction site. Mexicali is in a desert region, dependent on flows from the Colorado River to support 250,000 hectares of food, less than half of which was cultivated due to the current drought.

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

Intense deficits across northwestern Mexico are expected to moderate from January through March, and moderate to severe deficits will spread in the north-central states. Intense deficits will continue to emerge in southern Baja and exceptional deficits will emerge farther south on the west coast in Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, and Michoacán. Moderate deficits are expected to emerge in southern Oaxaca. A few pockets of intense surpluses in northern Coahuila and northern Nuevo Leon may persist, but begin to transition as deficits emerge. Deficits in western Cuba are forecast to moderate and some moderate deficits will continue to emerge in southern Guatemala.

Significant surpluses will continue to emerge in Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica. Surpluses are also forecast for central Cuba and Jamaica.

From April through June, severe deficits will persist in southern Baja and north-central Mexico, and will emerge in northwestern Sonora. Relatively normal water conditions are expected in much of the remainder of the country with some moderate surpluses along the southwestern coast. Surpluses in Central America will diminish in both extent and severity. Exceptional surpluses are expected to persist in Jamaica, but will diminish in central Cuba.

The forecast for the final three months – July through September – indicates moderate to severe deficits reaching from northeastern Mexico through northern Central America.

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

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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