Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Water surpluses persist in Nicaragua; deficits ahead for Jamaica

28 November 2018

The 12-month forecast ending July 2019 indicates deficits of varying intensity peppered throughout Mexico’s southern states from the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of Tehuantepec, and in the northern Yucatan Peninsula. Some moderate to severe deficits are forecast for the central Baja Peninsula, and moderate deficits from southern Chihuahua into central Durango. Intense surpluses are forecast for northern Coahuila and along Sinaloa’s northern coast on the Gulf of California, with some pockets of lesser intensity in the center of the country.

In Central America, surpluses are forecast for southeastern Guatemala into El Salvador, western Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica.

Moderate to extreme deficits are expected in western Cuba.

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

Intense deficits in the region are expected to diminish and downgrade over the next few months, and additional areas of surplus will emerge in Mexico. The forecast through January indicates primarily moderate to severe deficits in the northern Yucatan Peninsula and scattered throughout the southern states. In the north, deficits will be severe along the Rio Grande in Chihuahua. Intense surpluses are forecast for northern Coahuila and along Sinaloa’s northern coast on the Gulf of California. Surpluses of varying severity are forecast along a diagonal from southern Durango through Mexico City, broken by a pocket of intense deficits in southern Puebla, and continuing into northern Oaxaca. Moderate surpluses are forecast from Aguascalientes to Puerto Vallarta.

In Central America some primarily moderate deficits are forecast for central Guatemala, southern Belize, and western Honduras. Surpluses are expected in southern Guatemala, El Salvador, southern Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica, and will be especially intense from south-central Honduras into central Nicaragua. Deficits are expected in Panama. In the Caribbean, intense deficits are forecast for Jamaica and moderate deficits in Cuba, Haiti, and Puerto Rico.

From February through April deficits in southern Mexico and the Yucatan will intensify, moderate deficits will emerge in southern Baja and will increase in southern Chihuahua, crossing into Coahuila and Durango. Conditions will normalize along the Rio Grande in Chihuahua. Surpluses will persist in northern Coahuila, northern coastal Sinaloa, and from southern Durango to Mexico City. Surpluses in Central America will transition to conditions of both deficit and surplus, except in south-central Honduras where intense surpluses will persist. Dry anomalies in the Caribbean will downgrade to mild overall.

The forecast for the final three months – May through July – indicates moderate deficits in many parts of Mexico with more intense conditions in southern Baja. Some moderate deficits are also forecast for northern Central America.

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

Floods and landslides across Central America early last month claimed the lives of 12 people. Heavy rains stretching from Guatemala to Costa Rica caused a landslide in Honduras, destroyed houses and crops, and forced thousands to evacuate their homes.

Hurricane Willa made landfall as a Category 3 storm in Sinaloa, Mexico late last month, prompting school closures and the evacuation of over 7,000 people. Willa-related extreme weather in shipping ports disrupted petroleum supply chains, contributing to gas shortages in Guanajuato.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved a funding package of US$8.7 million for the Belize Water Services, the national water and sewage utility, to enhance potable water supply on the nation’s largest island, Ambergris Caye. The island’s potable water is currently generated by a privately-owned reverse osmosis plant, but supply is falling short amid increased demand and anticipated effects of climate change. The new funding will allow Belize Water Services to purchase the desalination plant. The CDB has identified water as a key sector for development support in its 2016-2020 Country Strategy for Belize.

The thousands of Central American migrants traveling in a caravan northward to the United States-Mexico border are often described as fleeing violence and poverty, but experts say food insecurity due to climate change and resultant crop failures is a significant factor. US Customs and Border Patrol data show a surge in migration from the coffee fields of western Honduras, which have become less profitable due to changing weather patterns and market structures. Recurring drought has devastated subsistence farmers in the region. A third of all employment in Central America is in the agricultural sector.

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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