The national meteorological service of Belize has not recorded any drought so far this year, but they continue to maintain a close watch. In an interview with Meteorologist Shanea Young of the National Meteorological Service of Belize at Wednesday’s forum, she explained what contributed to the situation.
Shanea Young, National Meteorological Service of Belize: “We currently did not observe any drought event so based on using the standardized precipitation index there was no drought occurrence. It started off at the beginning wit the north being below normal especially in the Corozal Libertad area but because of the excess rainfalls that were observed in January and February the previous six months had no drought concern. Last year the dry season was drier so this past dry season it was abnormally wet because of various reasons but also because of the amount of cold fronts and prefrontal troughs share lines that cross the country. Typically during the dry season it should start to cool off as the ocean cools down because it’s the coldest time, for Belize January and February are normally the coldest months but because the sea surface temperatures were still warmer or above normal during this period it provided enhancement of moisture and instability that caused the rains in January and February.”
Reporter: Would that be because of climate change?
Shanea Young, National Meteorological Service of Belize: “Well on a year to year basis that is more climate variability but on a longer time frame like thirty years or one hundred years you could call it climate change but year to year it’s climate variability.”
Young says that currently when it comes to droughts, the Met Service uses an index that provides information for different time scales which covers lower than normal rainfall. There are other products which the service plans to integrate into its products.
Shanea Young, National Meteorological Service of Belize: “Going forward we are planning to use two agricultural drought indices which is the Evapotranspiration Drought Index and also the Cell Moisture Drought index and based on our analysis when it comes to Central Farm it showed that these two agricultural drought indices detected the magnitude of the 2015-2016 drought that we previously experienced and when it came to the standardized precipitation index it did capture the drought event in 2015-2016 but the magnitude was lesser and so the Agriculture Drought Indices are better indicators of agricultural drought and it reflected our previous drought events in terms of the damages that were actually observed.”
Young adds that they are working at strengthening the partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and by extension the farmers who are among the beneficiaries of the products provided by the Service.