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May 30, 2018

What’s the Weather Like? Hot and Dry

The National Meteorological Service, through its Climatology and Climate Services unit, hosted more than fifty representatives across a number of sectors at the annual climate outlook forum. The organization produces seasonal climate outlooks which are used to address climate related risks at national and local levels. At today’s forum, the seasonal outlook for the rainy season was presented to help with planning for the next couple of months. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Met Service hosted its sixth annual climate outlook forum today in Belmopan. The met office engaged with personnel from sectors including, agriculture, health, and energy to share the forecast for the next three months. Today, Climatologist Ronald Gordon presented on what the temperatures and rainfall will be for June-July-August. He says we can expect below normal temperatures and below normal rainfall are expected.

 

Ronald Gordon

Ronald Gordon, Climatologist, Belize National Meteorological

“Below normal temperatures doesn’t mean it is gonna be cold. We have experienced very warm temperatures over recent years, so our below normal will be just a bit cooler than how we experience it but still relatively hot.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So when we have below normal temperatures, rainfall – will it be drier than normal; what can we expect?”

 

Ronald Gordon

“Below normal temperatures is not the reason why it is gonna be dry but they are related to the same feature. So, what we are looking at right now, is that our region of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic, the sea surface temperatures are below normal and what that cause is less evaporation so there is less rainfall and at the same time cooler than normal sea surface temperatures normally translate to cooler than normal air temperature because the ocean cools the air. So, those are the two factors that are leading to the below normal rainfall and below normal temperatures for the coming season.”

 

Now this information will be used by all these stakeholders. The data presented will help them to make sound management decisions.  Take for instance, the agriculture sector.  Principal Agriculture Officer Ricardo Thompson explains how agriculture is dependent on accurate and timely climatic conditions, to make plans for crops and livestock.

 

Ricardo Thompson

Ricardo Thompson, Principal Agriculture Officer, Ministry of Agriculture

“Whenever we do our production plans, we have to actually look at what is the climate outlook what is going to happen. Because if you look at the different operations that we carry out in the field, it has to do with land preparation and that is dependent on the weather when we do planting. And when we plant, we need to have a certain level of moisture in the field for the plants to grow and if we don’t have that then we have to put in the necessary systems in place and one of that is irrigation. And it so happens that in Belize we are blessed not only with droughts but also rain so we have to think about drainage. So, those are very important information that we have to use for decision making and what we are going to be doing in the field. But further to that apart from the aspect of crops, we have the aspect of livestock. In the case of livestock we have to look at the pastures and if that will not be enough we have to make sure that the systems are put in place, for example, forage banks, improved pastures and systems that are going to take us across those times of drought.”

 

So, what does the forecast mean for the agriculture sector? We asked Thompson if there is any concern for farmers.

 

Ricardo Thompson

“What we normally expect is that June-July-August is usually normal rainfall. What we heard just now, we are going to have 50 percent to 60 percent below normal rainfall. That means that if the amount of moisture that we supposed to be during that time decreases, then we are going to have some difficulties in the field when it comes to crop production especially if it is not under irrigation and if it is under the normal conventional way of growing crops, we are going to have some difficulties. What that tells us is that we have to start to prepare ourselves and put these things in place.”

 

Minister Edmond Castro says that the climate outlook ultimately helps to support the development of the country.

 

Edmond Castro

Edmond Castro, NEMO Minister

“Without the Met Service giving them the necessary and vital information, they will be unable to plan or plan properly. So, forums like this, we bring all the farmers and stakeholders together and it is very important for the development of the nation.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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