International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Issue: 13/2006- 12/2006 - 11/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001



Climate Perspectives in Central America for the period between December 2003 and March 2004

By initiative of the National Service for Territorial Studies (SNET), the 11th Regional Climate Forum for Central America was carried out on November 11-14, 2003, in the city of San Salvador, El Salvador. This was the third forum held during 2003 (III FCCA-2003).

The event gathered experts and specialists in meteorology, climatology and hydrology from the Central American isthmus and Mexico.

The forum represented an opportunity to review current atmospheric and oceanic conditions, as well as their implications for rainfall and temperature patterns in the Meso-American region. One of the outcomes of the forum was a Regional Forecast for the period between December 2003 and March 2004.

This period, which is the winter season in the northern hemisphere, is the dry season on the Pacific side of the Central American isthmus, and the rainy season on the Caribbean side. In dry areas, the risks associated with dry conditions are wildfires and a depleted water supply caused by high temperatures and a lack of rainfall. In some parts of the Caribbean side of the isthmus, intense rainfall and flooding result when cold fronts enter the tropical latitudes.

Taking into account the evolution of anomalies (deviation from the norm) in the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean and the tropical Atlantic, as well as the forecasted ocean surface temperature for the upcoming months, data from years similar to 2003, and climatic estimates based on a number of analyses, the Forum estimated the probability that accumulated rainfall and average temperature for the period between December 2003 and March 2004 will be (A) above normal, (N) normal, or (B) below normal

The map below shows the possibility that rainfall in each of the Central American regions will fall into the three categories described above. The probability assigned to each region appears in the table.

The areas with higher probability of experiencing above normal rainfall between December 2003 and March 2004 are: Belize; the Petén, the northern strip and Izabal in Guatemala; the Caribbean coast in Honduras and the North Atlantic autonomous Region (RAAN) of Nicaragua.

The areas with high probability of experiencing normal (average) rainfall during this period are: the high plateau, Pacific plains, and eastern region of Guatemala; El Salvador; south central and south eastern Honduras (including Choluteca, Valle and El Paraíso), as well as central and western Honduras (including Copán, and Santa Barbara, Comayagua, Francisco Morazan, Intibuca, Lempira, La Paz, and Olancho); in Nicaragua, the eastern part of Jinotega, Matagalpa, and the southern part of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN); in Costa Rica, Tortuguero and the southern Pacific region; in Panama, Darien, Kuna Yala, and the Pacific coast.

The areas with high probability of experiencing below normal rainfall during the four-month period are: Guatemala’s western high plateau; Nicaragua’s Pacific and central regions; Costa Rica’s Northern Pacific, central, central valley, and southern Caribbean coastal regions; and Panama’s Bocas del Toro and northern Veraguas.

As for the air temperature, analyses showed high probability that air temperature throughout the isthmus will be warmer than normal.

The forum is an activity of the Central American Program for Weather Forecasting and its Applications, developed by the Regional Committee on Hydraulic Resources of the Central American Isthmus (CRRH), Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SICA), which are responsible for coordinating activities in the areas of meteorology, climatology, climate change, and water resources in Central America. The goal of the Forum is to advance the development of a system for the production and dissemination of climate-related information and its applications in the isthmus. This is achieved through dialogue among representatives from regional and international research organizations, meteorologists and weather forecasters, experts from the Meteorological Services, Central American and Mexican Universities, and the private sector, who understand the needs and potential applications of climate information in decision-making in order to reduce existing risks.

For more information please contact
Patricia Ramírez, Project Director,Meteorology and climate
Tel (506) 231-5791 Fax: (506) 296-0047