Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Water deficits in Baja, Nayarit, & W Cuba

28 February 2018

The 12-month forecast ending October 2018 (below) indicates severe to exceptional water deficits in Baja, Mexico. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for northern and central states, with slightly more intense deficits in Tamaulipas and farther south in Puebla.

Severe to exceptional surplus is forecast for eastern Honduras. Surpluses of lesser severity are expected in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, western Panama, Jamaica, and central Cuba. 

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

In the next few months exceptional deficits are forecast to retreat in northwestern Mexico but will persist in the southern Baja Peninsula and will emerge farther south in Nayarit. Severe deficits, with a return frequency of 10 to 20 years, are forecast in north-central states at the intersection of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango, as well as along the Rio Grande. Pockets of surplus will continue to emerge in southern Mexico and into northern Guatemala. Surplus conditions will continue to be intense in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, and moderate surpluses will persist in western Panama. In the Caribbean, severe deficits are forecast for western Cuba and the Bahamas; exceptional surpluses are forecast in Jamaica.

From May through July, deficits will downgrade to severe in southern Baja and upgrade from mild to severe in northern Baja. Moderate deficits will continue to emerge in north-central Mexico, along with severe deficits along the Rio Grande. Closer to the western coast, a band of surplus will emerge reaching from Durango through western portions of Jalisco, Michoacán, Guerrero, and into Oaxaca. Surplus conditions in Central America are forecast to diminish considerably, leaving some moderate conditions in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Aforementioned deficits in the Caribbean will become merely mild, and surpluses in Jamaica will retreat but persist.

The forecast for the final three months – August through October – indicates the emergence of moderate to extreme deficits reaching from northeastern Mexico through northern Central America.

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

While drought remains a concern in Mexico's northern states, flooding has affected several regions in Central America.

Dams in the state of Sonora in northwestern Mexico were at nearly 54 percent of capacity in early February, according to one state irrigation director assuring crop supply, but ranchers in the region had already been forced to respond to cumulative drought conditions by reducing breeding stock 90 percent. Owners of smaller farms have been particularly hard hit, transporting water from 8 kilometers away (5 miles), two or three times a day to support livestock.

Mango crops from Sinaloa state may be at risk this year due to water limitations. With the local Agustina Ramirez dam at less than half capacity due to lack of rain, irrigation of the thousands of acres of planting cannot be guaranteed.  

Lack of rainfall in Nayarit has reduced sugarcane production by up to 50 percent in some areas.

In Central America, heavy rainfall in January and February - outside of the normal rainy season between April and November - has caused flood damage to agriculture and infrastructure. Recent flooding in Costa Rica is expected to impact banana and pineapple production, and a landslide blocked the main route to the province of Limón. Heavy rains in Guatemala caused rivers to overflow and created landslides, disrupting travel. In mid-February, flash flooding of up to four feet prompted relief efforts in western and southern Belize.

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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