BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday February 15, 2016 – A number of Caribbean countries have been placed under immediate drought warnings or watches, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
The Barbados-based agency said that last year was the driest on record for the Eastern Caribbean and some other areas and that the 2015-16 drought situation is similar to the major drought of 2009-10.
“The drought situation remains a major concern for many countries due to the below-normal rainfall recorded during the previous dry and wet seasons, which resulted in a number of countries experiencing water shortages in 2015,” CDEMA said in a statement.
Drought alerts have been issued by the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) for several countries up to March 2016, it added.
Drought warnings have been issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, northern Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and northern Suriname.
A drought watch has also been issued for Grenada, while Haiti east-and southward has been noted for drought concern.
The drought outlook for the short-term, until March 2016, may result in a rise or persistent drought situation in Haiti east-and southward and especially in Antigua, Barbados and the Leeward islands, CDEMA said.
“The longer term outlook — beyond March 2016 – will see a drier early part of the year in the Lesser Antilles due to a peak in the strength of El Niño.
“This may lead to drought concerns towards the end of the Caribbean dry season that is May 31, 2016. A drought watch is therefore issued for the Bahamas and southwest Belize during this period,” the agency said.
In the coming months, with El Niño subsiding around the start of the Hurricane Season, the drought impacts will worsen until May and ease afterwards, it predicted.
“La Niña, the opposite of El Niño, might take over later in the year, resulting in higher flood risk. The national water management authorities continue to lead at the national level and the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) is on alert and planning for future actions,” the agency said.