The Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF), is warning that elevated ocean temperatures are set to persist over the next three months, intensifying heat stress across the Caribbean region.
This comes as Antigua and Barbuda continues to grapple with recurrent heatwaves, with residents hoping for relief in the form of cooler days.
CariCOF’s latest edition of the Caribbean Climate Outlooks, covering the period from September to November, delivers a sobering message. It states, “Pacific and Atlantic Ocean temperatures should remain well above average, continuing to amplify heat stress in the Caribbean through October by increasing temperatures, humidity, and heatwave frequency to rival some of the warmest heat seasons on record.”
One of the key factors contributing to this phenomenon is the presence of a moderate to strong El Niño pattern. El Niño describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean and is known to influence weather patterns worldwide.
In this case, it’s expected to reduce rainfall frequency and tropical cyclone intensity in Belize and surrounding islands, leading to more frequent short-term dry spells.
Conversely, record-warm Atlantic waters will intensify rainfall in certain areas, potentially raising concerns about flooding and related hazards. The Guianas, on the other hand, are likely to experience an intense hot and dry season.
Explaining the complex interplay between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean temperatures, CariCOF noted, “The coinciding unusually warm Pacific and Atlantic have opposing effects on Caribbean rainfall and hurricane season activity. For now, the record-warm Atlantic appears predominant in much of the islands, resulting in limited drought concern, whereas the potential for flooding, flash floods, and cascading hazards will be high due to copious rains. By contrast, the Guianas will be predominantly drier and hotter from mid-August.”
As the climate outlook predicts, rainfall totals up to October are expected to be either normal or higher in regions including the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao), The Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, and the Leeward Islands. However, Barbados, Belize, the Guianas, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Windward Islands may see either usual or reduced rainfall amounts.
This forecast underscores the significance of proactive climate adaptation and disaster preparedness measures throughout the Caribbean.