CariCOF reiterates 2024 a year of climate extremes for Caribbean

The Barbados-based Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) is reiterating its earlier warning that 2024 is shaping up to be a year of climate extremes in the Caribbean.

In its latest Caribbean Climate Outlook Newsletter, CariCOF said that for the upcoming period, June to August, cooling temperatures in the equatorial Pacific will result in  La Niña conditions (the cooling phase of the sea surface temperature) while possibly near-record warm Tropical North Atlantic Ocean are set to continue.

“Therefore, an intense heat season with recurrent heatwaves, a (hyper) active Atlantic Hurricane Season and an intense wet season are forecast,” CariCOF said, adding that “frequent and intense shower activity could result in high potential for flooding, flash floods, cascading hazards and associated impacts.”

CariCOF said that should the intrusion of dry Saharan air, which usually peak through July,  be more frequent than usual, “storm and shower activity may be more erratic, delaying relief from any water shortages arising from low rainfall and high evapotranspiration rates observed during the dry season.”

CariCOF said that severe short-term drought has developed in Belize, Martinique, eastern French Guiana, northern Guyana and Suriname and long term drought is evolving in eastern Cuba, Guadeloupe, northern Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname.

In a brief climate outlook, CariCOF said that during the period September to November, night-time and daytime temperatures, as well as air humidity will likely be considerably higher than usual in most areas.

“Frequent episodes of heat stress are expected as the region is likely to continue to be in a potentially record Heat Season. Heat stress may ramp up even more if incursions of Saharan air are very frequent.”

CariCOF said that this period marks the late wet season, as well as the peak and, after October, the transition out of the heat season in the Caribbean.

“An unseasonably warm Tropical North Atlantic, combined with likely La Niña conditions are forecasted. Consequently, unusually high air temperatures and humidity are expected, along with the occurrence of significant to potentially record-breaking heat stress.”

CariCOF said that the risk of severe weather impacts from frequent tropical cyclones or other shower activity, including flooding, flash floods, and cascading impacts is expected to be even higher than usual, amounting to unusually copious wet season rainfall.

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