Drought Press Release #1

Monday, April 6th, 2020

The National Meteorological Service (NMS) of Belize hereby informs the general public that the seasonal rainfall forecast for April to September 2020 is showing a probability of drier than usual conditions across much of the country. Driest conditions are expected over northern and central areas while rainfall over the Stann Creek and Toledo district is expected to be normal to slightly below normal. One of the main climatic drivers in our region is the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Whenever there is an El Nino, as was the case in 2019, there is high confidence that our region will see less than normal rainfall. However, for this year the ENSO is expected to remain in a neutral phase for the coming months. This creates greater uncertainty in the seasonal forecasts.

Given the forecast for below normal rainfall during the coming months along with the fact that ground water and surface reservoirs continue low from last year’s drought, the National Meteorological Service maintains a drought warning for the districts of Corozal, Orange Walk Cayo, Belize and Stann Creek and a drought watch for the Toledo district. An increase in pest and diseases associated with drier than normal conditions is also highly likely along with sporadic fires outbreaks. Additionally, the NMS advices that the situation on the New River may be similar to last year taking into account the rainfall factor alone, therefore constant monitoring is required. For additional details and products, the general public is advised to keep up to date with information published on the NMS website at http://www.hydromet.gov.bz/.

The National Meteorological Service, in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and Immigration (MFAI), calls for water conservation at all levels and advices farmers and ranchers to take the necessary precautions for minimizing losses of crops and livestock. A detailed list of drought mitigation measures that can assist in minimizing agricultural losses can be found on the websites of the NMS, MFAI, https://www.agriculture.gov.bz/sustainable-agriculture/, Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) https://www.geoportal.baha.org.bz and the International Regional Organization for Plant and Animal Health (OIRSA) https://geoportal.oirsa.org/


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