The Dominica Meteorological Services has issued a drought warning for communities on the West Coast in effect till July 2019.
According to a statement issued on Monday, the Met Office said the western region of Dominica has observed below normal rainfall accumulation for three consecutive months from January 2019.
The Met Office says this situation is defined as a meteorological drought. On the eastern part of the island, normal rainfall was recorded in January but February and March received below normal rainfall. Recent projections for rainfall from the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) through the Dominica Meteorological Service indicates that below normal rainfall accumulations can be expected from May into July, the transition period from the dry season and into the wet season.
As a result, the Met Office has issued a Drought Warning for the western regions where drought-like conditions are already being felt. A drought warning means that drought is evolving in and around the western sections of the island.
The Met office statement says that Dominica received some relief from deficient rainfall totals in April with normal rainfall recorded at the two airport stations. However, this has made no significant change in soil moisture on the west. As the dry season comes to a close, the rainfall relief that is expected with the onset of the wet season may be delayed. This means that, it is highly likely that the dry season will be extended and drought-like conditions on the west coast prolonged.
Significantly, the Met Office is warning that with projections for above normal temperatures during the Caribbean ‘heat season’, that is from May to October, the potential for bush fires remains elevated.
A weak El Niño continues to contribute to this reduced rainfall amounts across parts of the Eastern Caribbean and strongly supports the forecast for below normal rainfall until the end of July.
Uncertainties exist about the continuation of El Niño beyond this period.
With that in mind, the Dominica Meteorological Service is advising the public and relevant sectors to practice water conservation and proper water storage measures in the event of an extended dry season and worsening drought conditions. Rainfall dependent resources should be protected.
The Meteorological Service says it will continue to monitor the hydro-meteorological conditions and provide necessary updates.