The persistent drought conditions that Antigua and Barbuda has been experiencing for over a decade have worsened to serious levels, according to climatologist Dale Destin, the Acting Director of the MET Office.
The island continues to suffer from below-normal rainfall,including in the month of March, when the catchwas 29.2 mm or 1.15 inches – the worst for that month since 2015.
According to Destin,2021 has been the driest start to a year since 2015; and this first quarter is the ninth-driest in a series that dates back to 1928.
In his online blog, Destin indicates that the “drought is likely to get worse over the next few months, as below-normal rainfall is forecast by most models.”
In fact, he says one model is forecasting a 60 to 70% likelihood of below-normal rainfall for the country, and only two of the 12 models forecast near-normal rainfall.
Destin says that water catchments island-wide could “again revert to mud patches and/or grasslands, which has virtually become an annual phenomenon.”
In spite of the drought, Destin says that the utilisation of the ocean to provide fresh water has made the country resilient; “notwithstanding, there are still likely to be notable impacts, direct and indirect, when the other droughts get underway,” he warns.
The Antigua Public Utilities Authority has already indicated that the surface water-catchments are almost empty.
Meanwhile, Destin says there has been virtually no rainfall for April. Therefore, water rationing is imminent, if not already occurring, based on APUA’s statement.
The only significant rainfall the island experienced occurred in November 2020, when unexpected showers caused widespread flooding across the island.
This resulted in a number of water catchments being replenished, including the island’s biggest tap-water source, the Pot Works Dam. That catchment had been bone dry, but ended up being over 50 percent replenished due to the flooding.