Region urged to brace for drought and recurrent dry spells
The Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) says chances of drought and recurrent dry spells during the peak of the dry season have increased as the weal El Niño conditions are forecast to persist until the end of April.
Typical El Niño effects are likely to develop over North America during the winter season.
In its latest Caribbean Climate Outlook bulletin, the CIMH said that region-wide, extreme drought is unlikely.
“Wet days and wet spells are expected to become least frequent by March, while the chance for extreme wet spells tends to re-emerge in April, especially in the Greater Antilles, with some concern for flash flood potential arising then,” CIMH said, noting that temperatures will be seasonably comfortable at least through February, and start rising thereafter.
CIMH said that shorter drought term situations by the end of April is evolving for the ABC islands namely, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, as well as Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and that shorter term drought might possibly develop in Antigua, southern and central Belize, Cayman Islands, Guyana, St. Kitts, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname..
But it noted that while a weak El Niño is expected to contribute to reduced rainfall up until April, long term drought is evolving in Antigua, Cayman, Grenada, Martinique and Tobago and that long term drought “might possibly develop in most other areas in the region”.
In its bulletin, CIMH said that for the period May to July this year, which is regarded as the transition period between the dry and wet season, it is expected that there will be increasing temperatures.
“This implies a gradual build-up of heat discomfort from April onwards, with the occurrence of a few heat waves becoming likely, first in Belize and Trinidad and, from July onwards, elsewhere.
“Temperatures across the region are expected to be warmer than usual.
Nevertheless, the occurrence of extreme wet spells is possible in any area, with a corresponding rise in flash flood potential,” the CIMH said in its bulletin.
Dramatic cholera outbreaks in East Africa linked to extreme El Niño event
Dramatic cholera outbreaks in East Africa linked to extreme El Niño event.
Scientists have established a link between El Niño and cholera epidemics in Africa.
A study conducted in Bangladesh revealed an association between the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle and cholera.
El Niño is a climate cycle which has a global impact on weather patterns including tropical storms and drought.
The new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science is the first to tackle this issue.
They created high-resolution maps of cholera incidence and discussed the factors that could explain the outbreaks – whether population density, access to drinking water, access to sanitation, and distance to nearest major water body.
The scientists found that while the total number of cholera cases did not vary between El Niño years and non-El Niño years, the geographic distribution of cases did.
There were approximately 50,000 additional cases in East Africa during and following El Niño years and 30,000 fewer cases in southern Africa.
Thus, increased rainfall in East Africa partly explained why the number of cases exploded during El Niño.
We saw an association between rainfall and disease, at least in the few regions of East Africa where we know that rainfall tends to be higher during El Niño years", Moore pointed out.