BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — The Barbados-based Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) is predicting that a “cool and less intense early dry season” will occur in the Caribbean.
In its December to February 2021 Caribbean Climate Outlook Newsletter, CariCOF said this is due to the presence of La Niña conditions, except in The Bahamas and Cuba. The dry season runs from about February to June.
La Niña refers to the large-scale cooling of the ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, coupled with changes in the tropical atmospheric circulation, namely winds, pressure and rainfall. It usually has the opposite impacts on weather and climate as El Niño, which is the warm phase of the so-called El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
“In Belize and the Islands, flooding, flash flood, landslide, rock fall and soil erosion potential will decrease from moderate in December to slight by January. In the Guianas, this potential will be high with an intense wet season” CariCOF noted.
It said that increasingly frequent, short dry spells are forecast — especially from Hispaniola westward — impacting unprotected crop farming and increasing wild fire potential.
Meanwhile, CariCOF says that from November 1, severe (or worse) shorter-term drought has developed in western Puerto Rico, but eased in previously affected areas.
“Long term drought should not be a significant concern in most affected areas by the end of May in most areas. However, at the end of May long term drought should evolve in southern parts of Belize and northwest Puerto Rico, and may possibly develop or persist in eastern Cuba, eastern Dominican Republic, and southeast Puerto Rico.
In a brief climate outlook, CariCof said that from March to May next year, the second half of the 2020-21 dry season – when water availability usually reaches its annual minimum – may still be influenced by La Niña.
“Wetter than usual conditions are likely in Barbados, Belize, the Guianas, Trinidad and Tobago and the Windward Islands. However, it may end up even drier than usual in much of the Greater Antilles.
“Frequent dry spells may impact crop production, though less so in the areas ending up wetter than usual. Temperatures usually remain comfortable through March, but tend to increase into the start of the heat season in April,” it added.