Severe drought set to linger in Micronesia
Forecasters say a severe drought that has hit the Micronesian region could remain for a while yet.
Forecasters say a severe drought conditions in Micronesian could get worse for a few weeks yet.
Much of the Pacific has been affected by drought over recent months, triggered by a strong, elongated El Nino system.
The Northern Marianas, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands have been severely affected with the latter two declaring state of emergencies.
Lead Forecaster at the Guam Weather Service, Clint Simpson, told Koro Vaka'uta no improvement in conditions is expected in the near future.
CLINT SIMPSON: We've very dry all across Micronesia and we expect much below normal rainfall to continue. There are a few showers out there at times but they are very shallow and they are not producing very much rainfall so most of the stations and most of the islands all across Micronesia are running much below normal rainfall.
KORO VAKA'UTA: Is there any relief on the horizon?
CS: We are hoping that the general weather pattern does change. We have just gone through a very strong El Nino. The El Nino looks like it has peaked out and is gradually transitioning. We are hoping that it turns into a more neutral pattern by late (northern) spring early summer and that would bring some relief. It would allow some of the heavier showers that have been along the equator to move northward for some of the Mircronesia islands.
KV: There is relief on the horizon though, in terms of the immediate future or near future?
CS: I can't quite say that I'm expecting an improvement until into the summer months and it's going to get worse and worse during the next few weeks. We are hoping that as the atmosphere changes patterns a little bit that there will be a few more showers starting to move up into the Micronesia area.
KV: Just to clarify, is it right that much of Micronesia has been under drought level three, which is of four levels right?
CS: Yes. Some of them, many of them are under severe drought and ranging from level three and four, up to level five in some locations. There is probably some isolated small islands, that have small populations that may even be suffering worse conditions and they are needing to use water shipped in or there is some machinery out there that sometimes can convert sea water to drinkable water. So there is help being given to many of those islands.
KV: What's the landscape look like? Even where you are in Guam, or just across the region, what's the landscape looking like?
CS: Guam itself is in better shape than most of the islands. Many of the other islands the grasses would be turning brown and some of the local crops that they grow such as taro and yam and some of the fruit trees would be, like foliage, would be suffering and turning brown. The crops would be suffering.
KV: Historically, how does it compare, this dry period that we've had? To recent years anyway.
CS: This is very dry. As a matter of fact I think there are some stations out there that in their recorded history, which goes back something like 50 or 60 years, this may have been the driest period that they have ever experienced.
KV: I saw reports in the CNMI, recommending people to conserve water and that sort of thing. Is water conservation still a necessity?
CS: Yes. We're recommending that people monitor their wells and water supplies and conserve water as much as possible. The Northern Mariana islands, they are also suffering much below normal rainfall and they are also watching their water supplies very, very closely.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: