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Dry conditions worsen in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Haiti

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • July 15, 2014
Dry conditions worsen in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Haiti

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  • Key Messages
  • Seasonal Progress
  • Forecast
  • Key Messages
    • Rainfall deficits have continued across parts of Central America, particularly in eastern and southern regions of Honduras and central and northern regions of Nicaragua over the last few weeks. Deficits have been most severe in the departments of Chinandega, Madriz, Nueva Segovia, and Estelí departments in Nicaragua, where below-average rainfall has persisted since May.

    • Heavy rainfall deficits also persist in Haiti, with drought conditions in the areas of Les Cayes, Jéremie, and Jacmel.

    • The rainfall forecast for the next two weeks is for reduced rainfall in the Central America region due to the occurrence of the dry spell (canícula), which typically occurs between July and August. This reduction in rainfall could affect crop development, particularly in the dry areas of eastern Guatemala, where the canícula is expected to last longer than usual due to El Niño.


    Seasonal Progress

    An increase in rainfall during the week of July 1 did not compensate for the significant rainfall deficits that have persisted since May in many areas of Central America and Haiti. Erratic and poorly distributed rainfall in the Primera season in Central America and the Spring season in Haiti has led to growing moisture deficits and deteriorating soil conditions across several departments in eastern and southern Honduras, central and northern Nicaragua, and southern Haiti (Figure 1). In Haiti, below-average rainfall since early May has caused seasonal deficits ranging between 150 and 300 mm over portions of the southwest.

    Extended dryness has led to low soil moisture in Olancho in eastern Honduras. In Nicaragua, there was a 45-day delay in the start of the season in Chinandega, Madriz, Nueva Segovia, and Estelí departments. The recent reduction in rainfall in eastern Guatemala has led to some deficits in the departments of Jalapa and Chiquimula. The forecast for an extended dry spell in Guatemala will likely affect crops of subsistence farmers, reducing Primera season harvest prospects in these areas.

    In other areas of Guatemala, and some areas of El Salvador, rainfall has continued to be above average, providing favorable conditions for crop development. In spite of the above-average rainfall in western and northern Guatemala, no significant damages have been reported.


    Forecast

    The forecast for the next two weeks is for a continuation of below-average rainfall across Central America and Haiti. This reduction in the rainfall, which could negatively impact crop development in the drier areas, is due to the dry spell, which normally occurs between July and August in Central America.

    In Haiti, the forecast for the weeks of July 1-15 (Figure 2) indicates that the heaviest rainfall will fall over central Haiti, with totals not exceeding 75 millimeters.  In the dry areas of Les Cayes, Jéremy, and Jacmel, rainfall will range between 10 and 20 millimeters. The cumulative rainfall deficit will also affect the start of the fall growing season in mountainous areas.

    In Central America, poor rainfall is expected in the already dry areas of Nicaragua and Honduras, and the parts of eastern Guatemala that have been recently affected by dryness, worsening soil  moisture conditions. Drought conditions could reduce crop yields and the probability of crop damages and losses is very high in these areas.

    The higher elevation areas of Guatemala will continue to receive seasonal rains. Due to the saturated soils, landslides could be expected for the next two weeks.

    The seasonal dry spell in the south of Central America is expected to start in the last two weeks of July, extending until mid-August, with the potential to extend the areas affected by dryness in the region and further reduce water availability for the start of the Segunda season in Central America and the fall season in Haiti.

    Figures Figure 1 Percent of Normal Rainfall, May 1 - June 30, 2014

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Percent of Normal Rainfall, May 1 - June 30, 2014

    Source: FEWS NET / USGS

    Figure 2.  Rainfall forecast, July 1 – 15

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Rainfall forecast, July 1 – 15

    Source: FEWS NET / NOAA

    FEWS NET’s Seasonal Monitor reports are produced for Central America and the Caribbean, West Africa, East Africa, Central Asia, and Somalia every 10-to-30 days during the region’s respective rainy season(s). Seasonal Monitors report updates on weather events (e.g., rainfall patterns) and associated impacts on ground conditions (e.g., cropping conditions, pasture and water availability), as well as the short-term rainfall forecast. Find more remote sensing information here.

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