Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Water deficits to increase in S. Mexico

31 July 2019

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast ending March 2020 indicates deficits of varying intensity across southern Mexico. Deficits could be extreme to exceptional along the Balsas River from the Infiernillo Reservoir in Michoacán to the city of Puebla. Deficits will also be intense in Oaxaca.

Moderate deficits are forecast for central Baja and southeastern Chihuahua. A few pockets of primarily moderate surplus are expected in northern Baja, northern Coahuila, and northern San Luis Potosí.

In Central America, pockets of moderate to severe deficit are forecast for Guatemala, western Honduras, and El Salvador. Moderate surpluses are expected in southern Nicaragua and central Panama. Western Cuba can expect moderate to severe deficits; some moderate deficits are forecast for Haiti.

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

The forecast through September indicates that Mexico will transition to nearly normal water conditions in the north with some primarily mild deficits in Baja and pockets of moderate surplus between the Yaqui and Bavispe Rivers in northeastern Sonora, in north Coahuila, and in northern San Luis Potosí. Moderate to exceptional deficits are forecast from Guanajuato through Chiapas in the south, with exceptional deficits in southern Veracruz. In Central America, moderate to extreme deficits are expected in central Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Moderate surpluses are forecast for southern Nicaragua and central Panama. Deficits are expected in Haiti.

From October through December, normal conditions are expected throughout most of northern Mexico, and deficits in the south will downgrade, moderating overall. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras; moderate surpluses are forecast for western Panama. Deficits in the Caribbean will normalize.

The forecast for the final three months – January through March 2020 – indicates nearly normal conditions in northern Mexico and the Caribbean, pockets of primarily moderate deficit in southern Mexico with intense deficits around the Gulf of Tehuantepec, in southern Guatemala, and in El Salvador. A small pocket of moderate surplus may linger in western Panama.

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

IMPACTS
In early July, a flash flood killed eight hikers in the Mexican state of Coahuila. Heavy rains in Reynosa, Tamaulipas last month caused flooding and power outages, closing a hospital and two border crossings. 

A storm dropped hail and created flash flooding that combined to create apparent hail drifts over a meter in height in Guadalajara, Mexico early this month, producing striking images of cars lodged in ice. 

The Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology said late last month that drought conditions will persist in many Caribbean countries through September, which is well into the rainy season for most countries. Areas of Belize facing severe drought - including the extreme north and extreme south of the country - are home to key agricultural industries: sugar, citrus, bananas, cacao, fruits, and vegetables. Drought in Belize brings mixed effects to the country’s sugarcane agriculture. Drought increased sugar concentrations in cane plants that were planted last year, increasing the quality of this year’s harvest. On the other hand, younger plants planted this year suffered from inadequate water, threatening yield losses next year.

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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