Caribbean residents have been told to brace themselves for a wet Christmas as the region could continue to receive heavy rainfall throughout December.
That warning from the Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology (CIMH)
“This year, flooding is a bigger risk in December than in other years… keep checking the weather reports in your country to make sure that that doesn’t happen to you, without you knowing about it.” CIMH climatologist Cédric Van Meerbeeck said in Bridgetown.
He said while Christmas was traditionally a period where people like to think joyous things and “might not always pay as much attention to the weather as we normally would during the hurricane season, for instance”, heavy rains in December are not unheard of.
Several Caribbean islands experienced severe flooding in 2013 during the Christmas Eve holidays. In St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia, people died.
“….That’s a positive but, on the other hand, we’re getting out of the wet season with soils that, in many places, are quite drenched. So that means that if in the next weeks we get a lot of rainfall, even though we’re entering the dry season, we might still see flash floods wherever that extreme rainfall occ,” according to Van Meerbeeck
The highest risk according to him is in Guianas and in the southern parts of the islands.
“So, in the ABC islands of Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, in Trinidad and Tobago, in Grenada, in Barbados, and then less so as you go further north.”
He said climatologists the globe is experiencing La Nina which tends to “influence weather patterns at the seasonal timescale here.
He noted that during La Nina, the Caribbean typically experiences wetter years as well as a stronger end part of the hurricane season.
“So, from September until October, we have a lot of systems passing through the region. The next thing that happens is, fortunately for us, the heat was not as tremendously a problem this year as it’s been, for instance, in 2021 when the opposite pattern occurred.”
Van Meerbeeck said this was the reason for recent flash floods in St Lucia, Dominica, and other countries.
“If you look back from May until recently, you’ve had a whole string of countries across the Caribbean that experienced flooding at some time, with, unfortunately, damage and losses to our agriculture and other sections of our economy,” he told CMC.
However, he pointed out that La Nina will tend to result in drier weather in the northwest of the regions.
“So, in The Bahamas, in Cuba, in the Cayman Islands and sometimes also in Belize…. They are the ones who now have to look into their dry season if the drought will develop. Because if that’s the case, you know that the dry season, which is from now until May, also largely overlaps with our main season,” Van Meerbeeck said.
He noted that more people in the region as a result of tourism will result in increased water consumption.