Friday 19 July, 2019

Drier days ahead: Drought warning issued for T&T

With Trinidad and Tobago continuing to experience rainfall shortages, the country has been placed on meteorological drought warning.

The T&T Meteorological Service (Met Office) made the declaration in its Dry/Wet Spell Monitor and Outlook by end of March 2019, following significant rainfall deficit over the period November to December 2018.

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Drying continued over the two-month period December 2018 to January 2019, with significant rainfall deficits ranging from extreme to exceptional dry conditions observed in its two-month Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) monitor, placing the country in a meteorological drought.

The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) is an index showing the severity and rarity of dryness or wetness of an area and is used to monitor and estimate dryness and wetness on predefined timescales, such as two months, three months, six months and 12 months.

Negative SPI values indicate less than average rainfall and drier conditions while positive values indicate greater than average rainfall and wetter conditions.

A meteorological drought occurs when a place receives significantly less rainfall than normal over a period of a few months or longer.

A meteorological drought event starts when the two month SPI value reaches -1.5 and continues over two overlapping two-month periods. The drought ends when the SPI becomes positive again.

In November 2018, rainfall shortages were observed at all, except one of seven selected stations, and at all of the selected stations during December 2018.

At Piarco, 68.3 percent less than the monthly average rainfall (151.6mm) was recorded for December, making December 2018 the second driest December at Piarco since in 73 years.

At Crown Point, 44.9 percent of the monthly average rainfall (124.3mm) was observed, making December 2018 the sixth driest December on record since 1969.

Trinidad and Tobago continued to experience rainfall deficiencies January 2019.

At Piarco, 76.2 percent less than the monthly average rainfall was recorded for January, making the month the fifth driest January in 73 years.

At Crown Point, a new record was set for January with 3.0 mm of rainfall recorded. At 95.7 percent less than average, January 2019 is now the driest January in 50 years at Crown Point.

The Met Office said SPIs are expected to range between -1.2 to -2.0, suggesting the current dry spell is likely to continue, meaning that impactful drying is likely to persist up to the end of March.

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