Slight Increase in Rainfall But Drought Still On

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There was a slight rebound in Jamaica’s rainfall levels for the month of March, but the country continues to face a meteorological drought.

“Rainfall was not as bad as it could have been, and so, we take comfort in [that] fact,” said Principal Director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, Evan Thompson, at a post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday (April 26).

Mr. Thompson outlined that for March, 88 millimetres of rainfall were expected, and the country experienced 84 millimetres.

This is a significant improvement compared to previous months, such as December when, normally, about 115 millimetres of rainfall is expected for the island, but in 2022, Jamaica received only 57 millimetres.

Then in January, the expected 103 millimetres of rainfall was met with an actual 33 millimetres or just about a third of what is normal.

“And when we looked at the data that we received for the month of February, looking at the period from October to February, we saw that this was probably, cumulatively, the lowest amount of rainfall that we had ever seen in Jamaica as far as our records indicated. So, we have been really in a severe drought situation,” Mr. Thompson said.

He pointed out, however, that although the country was almost on par with what is normal for the month of March, there is still “room for concern”, and this does not mean that the drought has been broken.

Mr. Thompson explained that the drought is predicated on a period of two months, and “it will take a lot more rainfall to ensure that we break the drought pattern because we have to look over a period of eight weeks before we make a determination of whether we are still experiencing drought.”

Furthermore, the onset of the duration of a meteorological drought is determined by comparing the average rainfall over that two-month period with the 30-year historical norms for the country and for each parish.

According to Mr. Thompson, the country would not be considered as experiencing a drought if there is more than 60% of normal rainfall. However, if rainfall goes below 60%, it would be determined that the country is experiencing normal drought conditions. A severe drought occurs when rainfall is under 20% of the norm.

With these classifications, a number of parishes are still experiencing normal drought conditions, with Portland being the only parish not experiencing a drought at all. This is because the northeastern end of the island is usually the wettest.

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