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Apr 8, 2020

Another Drought on the Horizon!

Is another drought on our horizon? That’s what’s it shaping up to be – according to the National Meteorological Service’s seasonal rainfall forecast for April to September. That forecast shows there may be drier than usual conditions, which could mean a drought across most of the country. The Met Service cites the El Nino Southern Oscillation as one of the main climatic drivers for this. The release points out, “Whenever there is an El Nino, as was the case in 2019, there is high confidence that our region will see less than normal rainfall. However, for this year the ENSO is expected to remain in a neutral phase for the coming months. This creates greater uncertainty in the seasonal forecasts.” While the country still hasn’t recovered from last year’s drought, the Met Service has issued a drought warning for the districts of Corozal, Orange Walk Cayo, Belize, and Stann Creek and a drought watch for the Toledo district. Climatologist Michelle Smith Augustine tells us what you can expect and prepare.

 

On the Phone: Michelle Smith Augustine, Head, Climatology Section, NMS

“The forecast basically shows that from April right through to September we expect drier than usual conditions across much of the country.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“And when we say drier conditions – does this mean that there will be a drought?”

 

On the Phone: Michelle Smith Augustine

“Yes. All indications to us so far has suggested that a drought is possible again this year.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, what areas are we looking at to be hit the hardest as a result of that drought?”

 

On the Phone: Michelle Smith Augustine

“The driest conditions are expected over the northern and central areas of the country; that includes the Corozal, Orange Walk, Cayo districts and Belize Districts.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What industries are perhaps going to be most affected – we usually tend to focus on the agricultural industry?”

 

On the Phone: Michelle Smith Augustine

“Yes, that is the industry that we expect to be affected greatly by this year’s drought. We expect similar conditions to last year, so whatever losses the agriculture sector experienced last year we expect to occur again this year.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now what can these people do to prepare for something like this?”

 

On the Phone: Michelle Smith Augustine

“They can ensure first of all that they have adequate water supply and that would entail conserving water as early as possible. As soon as the advisory is released, it is advisable that they conserve water as much as possible.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now when we say conserve, are we saying use less, or store some water?”

 

On the Phone: Michelle Smith Augustine

“Exactly. We expect them to at least try to implement some kind of water storage system to anticipate the drier months that we expect ahead.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What is really causing this again for us to experience another year of drought conditions?”

 

On the Phone: Michelle Smith Augustine

“From last year’s drought the country simply didn’t fully recover. Water reservoir, ground water and surface water reservoirs remain low from last year’s drought and so a decrease in this year’s rainfall both in the actual observed rainfall and forecast rainfall, we expect the drought condition to reoccur.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Based on information that you guys have, are you able to say if at this point we will see a difference between the drought of this year and last year’s?”

 

On the Phone: Michelle Smith Augustine

“At this point it is really hard to say if this year’s drought will be worse than last year’s drought or it could be or the belief here is that it could be as bad as last year’s drought.”

 

While agri-production is expected to take a hit as a result, the met service says that an increase in pests, diseases and sporadic fire outbreaks associated with these drier conditions are also likely. The public is reminded that monthly updates to the drought forecast are available on the national meteorological service website.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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