A two-day Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) began here yesterday with the region being told to brace itself for a wetter than usual season and chances of more hurricane activity this year than in the past five years.

Climatologist with the Dominica Meteorologist Service (DMS) Annie Carrette-Jospeh, who presented the Wet/Hurricane Season Outlook for 2016, said that between the period June and August, there would also be a gradual drought alleviation across the region and that “surface water reservoirs will recharge, there will be soil moisture replenishment and an increase in river flow”.

She predicted that water shortage-related problems in agriculture will disappear in many places and that “where it has not already started, the wet season may start abruptly in June”.

The outlook noted that the second half of the wet season will be wetter or unusual in countries like Belize and the Leeward Islands with Carrette-Joseph warning that “moist conditions may favour mosquito breeding”.

The outlook, which was prepared by the DMS in collaboration with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), also warned of extremely wet spells occurring with “serious potential for flash flooding and landslides”.
In addition, the period September to November will be wetter than usual and there will also be chances of more hurricane activity than in the past five years.

There are predictions for 12 named storms this year with US-based scientists Klotzbach and Gray indicating the region may have to deal with at least one major storm in the category of either three, four or five.

There is also the forecast that the temperature during the next six months will be above normal and that “both nights and days will be warm”.

The implications, as a result, will be enhanced health risk from heat exposure and higher than usual energy costs for cooling.

The DMS climatologist said that La Niña increases chances of a wetter dry season and that “this could be similar to the dry season of 2011, where some said there was no dry season”.

The outlook for the Caribbean was presented at the conference where delegates are discussing how Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) can build resilience to extreme weather and climate events, with a focus on the pivotal role that national and regional health and disaster risk management agencies play in building a climate resilient Caribbean.

The two-day event is organised by the CIMH in collaboration with the DMS and other stakeholders including the United States Agency for International Development.

Jamaica Observer