Drier than usual dry season is expected in 2016

Dominica's dry season runs from December to May. December and May are considered as transition months, meaning they could be either wet or dry. Though water scarcity may not be an immediate threat to the island and an increase in rainfall frequency over the past few months was observed, the rainfall totals for 2015 recorded up to November are below normal. Thus far the Douglas-Charles Airport recorded about 66% of its annual average with Tropical Storm Erika contributing about 14%. At the Canefield Airport about 83% of its annual average is recorded thus far with Tropical Storm Erika contributing 25%.

The dry season commenced on December 1st. In addition to this, one of the strongest El Niño on record is presently being experienced and is expected to last until the end of the dry season. This phenomenon involves the unusual warming of the Eastern Equatorial Pacific Ocean and occur every 2-7 years and last approximately 6 to 18 months. During an El Niño event a stronger westerly wind prevails across the Caribbean and tears apart cloud tops which reduces the chances and intensity of rain and thunderstorms as well as tropical cyclones. El Niño contributes to ongoing drought in the region, the 2015 global coral reef bleaching event, as well as record heat in many places.

With this in mind drier and hotter than usual conditions are expected to continue. Rainfall totals from December 2015 to May 2016 are expected to be below to normal with projections for fewer wet days. This will lead to an increase in surface dryness and fewer wet spells and will also result in reduced recharge of water reservoirs. Temperatures are expected to be above to normal with record breaking maximum temperatures. Impacts of high temperatures include health risks, a higher demand for water not just from humans but animals and plants. Mosquitoes also thrive best at warmer temperatures.

Many of the Caribbean islands including Dominica are in a long term drought warning. This means water shortages may persist throughout the rest of 2015 and will worsen in the first half of 2016. The general public is therefore urged to continue to conserve water as we enter into the dry season.

CariCOF climate outlooks are prepared by the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology along with the Meteorological Services from across the region to aid in sectoral decision-making. The Dominica Meteorological Service is the provider of weather and climate products on the island.

Drier than usual dry season is expected in 2016

Posted: 21/12/2015