Region urged to brace for much warmer than usual heat season

February 26, 2024 in Regional

The Barbados-based Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF), is forecasting a waning El Niño event in the Pacific and near-record warm Tropical North Atlantic temperatures for the three month period March to May this year.

El Niño is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. It is the “warm phase” of a larger phenomenon called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

CariCOF in its latest Caribbean Climate Outlooks publication said therefore, the region is set to transition into a much warmer than usual heat season with recurrent heatwaves as early as April.

“March may still be characterised by high evaporation rates and an annual peak in the frequency of short dry spells, as well as further buildup of any ongoing drought and/or with increasing wildfire potential in the far northwest and in the southeast.

“By contrast, from April to May, rainfall intensity and shower frequency are likely to sharply rise, resulting in high to extremely high potential for flooding, flash floods, cascading hazards and associated impacts in most places, except the ABC (Aruba, Bonnaire and Curacao) Islands,” CariCOF added.

It said that as of February 1, 2024, long term drought has developed in Antigua, Dominica, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Kitts, Suriname northern Belize, Eastern Cuba, northern Guyana, Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago and the Windward Islands.

In addition, long term drought at the end of May 2024 is evolving in southwest Belize, Grand Cayman, inland portions of French Guiana, northeastern and inland portions of Guyana, southwest Puerto Rico, Suriname northern Suriname, and might possibly develop or continue in northern Belize, Central Cuba, Dominica, coastal French Guiana, northern Guyana, Tobago.