CariCOF Says Caribbean To Face Climate Extremes In 2024

(CMC) – The Barbados-based Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) says 2024 is shaping up to be a year of climate extremes in the Caribbean.

In its latest Caribbean Climate Outlook Newsletter released Tuesday and summarising the climate conditions and related hazards for the period April to June, CariCOF says a waning El Niño event in the Pacific and record-warm Tropical North Atlantic temperatures are forecast.

The term El Niño refers to a warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures, in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

“Therefore, the region is set to enter an intense Heat Season with recurrent heatwaves, as well as an early start to an intense wet season,” CariCOf said.

It said shower intensity and frequency are likely to sharply rise, resulting in high potential for flooding, flash floods, cascading hazards and associated impacts in most places, except Aruba, Bonnaire and Curacao (ABC Islands).

“Unknown is how frequent incursions of dry, dust-laden Saharan air into the Caribbean will be.

If very frequent, the period will further be characterised by erratic shower activity, interspersed with frequent dry spells, and further buildup of ongoing drought, record-breaking heat and wildfire potential,” CariCOF added.

“The potential for flooding, flash floods and cascading impacts arising from runoff during intense rainfall events will be high, particularly in mountainous areas and in the Guianas.”

CariCOF said that as of March 1 this year, moderate (or worse) short-term drought has developed in French Guiana, Grenada, Guyana, Martinique, southwest Puerto Rico, Suriname, and Tobago.

It said long-term drought has developed in southern Belize, northern Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, southern Puerto Rico, St Vincent, eastern and northern Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.

CariCOF said that at the end of May, long-term drought which is of immediate concern in southern French Guiana, is evolving in southwest Belize, Grand Cayman, parts of Central Cuba, central and northern French Guiana, northern Guyana, southwest Puerto Rico, Suriname, and might possibly develop or continue in ABC islands, northern Belize, Central Cuba, Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago.