Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Moderate water deficits forecast for S. Mexico

23 April 2019

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast ending December 2019 indicates deficits of varying intensity in most of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, along the country’s central and southern Pacific Coast, and in the southern states and the Yucatan Peninsula. Surpluses are forecast for central Mexico.

Deficits are expected to be exceptional in Nayarit on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, severe in Guerrero and Oaxaca in the south, and severe to extreme in Chiapas and much of the western Yucatan Peninsula.

Surpluses are forecast for Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, pockets in southeastern and northern Coahuila, and some stretches of the Rio Grande.

In Central America, moderate to severe deficits are forecast for Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, western Nicaragua, and western Costa Rica. A small pocket of exceptional deficit is forecast for western Panama with conditions of both deficit and surplus to the east. Moderate surpluses are expected in a pocket of Nicaragua’s central Caribbean Coast. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for Haiti, Dominican Republic, and western Cuba.

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

The forecast through June indicates some surpluses in far northern Baja, Mexico; moderate deficits in northern Baja and across the Gulf of California into coastal Sonora; and severe deficits in southern Baja. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for southern Chihuahua, along the Pacific Coast from southern Sinaloa through Chiapas, and through the Yucatan Peninsula. Surpluses are forecast for northern and southeastern Coahuila, along the southern border of Chihuahua and Sonora, and pockets of Durango, Zacatecas, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, and San Luis Petosi. Moderate deficits are expected in Guatemala, Belize, northern Honduras, Panama, Haiti, and Dominican Republic.

From July through September, the extent and pattern of deficits in Mexico will be much the same as in the forecast for the prior three months but deficits will intensify, becoming severe to extreme in most of the aforementioned regions, while downgrading in southern Baja. Surpluses will increase in the center of the country in Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi, will disappear in northern Coahuila, and will transition to deficit along the southern border of Chihuahua and Sonora while emerging along the northern border. Deficits will intensify in Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras and emerge in western Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Extreme surpluses are forecast for Nicaragua’s central Caribbean Coast. Panama will transition from deficit to moderate surplus or normal conditions. Intense deficits will emerge in Jamaica, and deficits will intensify somewhat in Haiti.

For the final three months – October through December – moderate to severe deficits will cover Mexico’s southern half as well as northern Central America. Surpluses will persist in central Mexico but will shrink and moderate. Moderate surpluses will persist in east-central Nicaragua and will increase in Panama.

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

IMPACTS
The Mexican government’s National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change reports that over 50 million people in Mexico, nearly 40 percent of the country’s population, are exposed to the consequences of climate change. In addition to the physical consequences of storms, floods, droughts, and heat waves, experts are also looking at the psychological toll inflicted, including sleep disturbance, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In Costa Rica, dry conditions and a pest outbreak, the cochineal scale insect, contributed to lower year-over-year projections for 2019’s pineapple and banana exports.

The southern pine beetle population expanded with this year’s El Niño phenomenon, exacerbating drought-related threats to agriculture and drinking water sources in Central American countries. El Salvador, Guatemala, and some parts of Honduras have reported crop losses and impending water shortages due to drought-like conditions. The current dry spell is expected to continue, says the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, along with dry spells during the region’s upcoming rainy season.

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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