The Meteorological Service Division has forecast that the drought conditions being experienced over central parishes are likely to be alleviated by the predicted rainfall for the next few months.
The most recent rainfall data from across the island show that the central parishes of St Ann, St Mary, St Catherine, Clarendon and Manchester are experiencing a meteorological drought wherein the parishes are recording rainfall below their climatological averages for the same period in previous years.
Jamaica's dry season typically spans December to March, with February and March recording the lowest rainfall averages most years.
“These parishes are currently experiencing drought right now and with the forecast for the next three months, what is predicting is that some of these parishes will have near-normal or an average amount of rainfall or they will be slightly above the average. The indication is that things should be better than what they currently are,” Climate service specialist at the Met Service, Glenroy Brown, told JIS News.
The predicted rainfall from February to April for central parishes in comparison to their climatological average for the same periods in 1971-2000 are St Ann – average 246mm and predicted 302mm, St Mary – average 385mm and predicted 343mm, St Catherine: average 207mm and predicted 256mm, Clarendon – average 164mm and predicted 152mm, and Manchester – average 322mm and predicted 351mm.
Brown explained that actually realising the predicted rainfall amounts would likely alleviate the current drought conditions.
“The future, however, looks a little brighter for these parishes, as recent rainfall events in January and February, as well as the most recent rainfall outlook up to the end of April, indicated that most parishes are likely to see some level of recovery from the current drought conditions that are affecting these parishes. The rainfall amount could decline in March. However, April could see an early start to the rainfall season based on predictions from our computer models,” he added.
This information, he added, can help to guide farmers and water supply entities like the National Water Commission in shaping their contingency plans.
Brown also shared that the predicted rainfall levels for central parishes during the period February to April are likely to reduce heat-stress impacts and flash flood events, but will not likely result in increased inflows to dams and water-storage facilities.