June 21, 2021

Caribbean should prepare for landslides and flooding

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flooding3942-450x303BRIDGETOWN – The drought conditions which have affected the region since late 2014 to early 2015 are expected to subside by the start of the 2016 Hurricane Season; but in their place the Caribbean should prepare for the risks of landslides and flash floods.

This is the warning from Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) in its latest seasonal climate forecast.

The forecast comes after many months of warmer and drier than average conditions in the Caribbean fuelled by El Niño, a warming of the eastern equatorial Pacific which has implications for weather patterns around the world, including drought in many regions.

After the forecasted weakening of El Niño, its counterpart La Niña (a cooling of the Pacific) may take over and affect the region in the latter part of 2016. If the change takes place, it is likely to result in higher than normal rainfall and stronger storm systems.

While near to above average rainfall is expected to ease the drought across the Caribbean later this year, CIMH advises that areas experiencing long-term dryness will be more susceptible to hazards such as landslides and flash floods, once rains return excessive amounts.

“Limited rainfall over the last few months has left many parts of the Caribbean with dry, compacted soils,” says Adrian Trotman, Agrometeorologist and Chief of Applied Meteorology and Climatology at CIMH.

“As a result, heavy rainfall will not be easily absorbed by affected soil which increases the risk of flooding.”

Trotman says that recent advances in climate forecasting services for the Caribbean now means that government planners and other bodies can make important decisions based on seasonal forecasts, from three to six months in advance.

“We know that advanced warning of an extreme event like a hurricane can help us to be more prepared. The same now applies for longer-term climatic events and this means that the sooner we can have an early warning of changing conditions the longer time we have to prepare and be more effective at mitigating those impacts.”

On February 17 at 4 p.m., CIMH will host a press conference at the Savannah Hotel in Bridgetown, Barbados to discuss what the forecast means for the Caribbean, and in particular how its early climate warning information products can help the region’s six climate-sensitive sectors (agriculture, disaster management, energy, health, tourism and water) prepare for and adapt to what is expected to be a more intense wet/hurricane season. 

This press conference will be facilitated by the well-known journalist and BBC World presenter David Eades, who is visiting the region as part of an international initiative sponsored by the World Meteorological Organisation to highlight how climate forecasting services are being used to boost business and economic opportunities in all Small Island Developing States.  (PR)

IMAGE: The Caribbean has been warned to brace for landslides and flash flooding as the La Niña weather phenomenon comes into effect. (FP)

SOURCE: http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/77908/caribbean-prepare-landslides-flooding#sthash.uxuNl464.dpuf

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