El Niño expected to affect the distribution of rainfall in the region
- According to recent forecasts, there is an increased likelihood of an El Niño event during the July-December 2014 period (Figure 1). During the transition to El Niño conditions (approximately May-August), spatial distribution of rainfall will likely be irregular, and rainfall totals will be below average during the months of June-August, especially in the Pacific areas of Central America and throughout Haiti.
- In Haiti, crop development is currently average, despite a 5-10 day delay in the start of season in some areas of Artibonite, Nord, Nord Est, Grand Anse, and Sud.
- In the northern region of Guatemala, an early start to the Primera season rains by almost 20 days has favored early planting, especially in the departments of Petén, Alta Verapaz, and Quiché (Figure 2).
ENSO-neutral conditions continued during April 2014, but with above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) developing over much of the eastern tropical Pacific. As of early May, ENSO model predictions indicate a 60 to 78 percent change of an El Niño event during the June 2014 thru February 2015 period. Most models indicate that ENSO-neutral (Niño-3.4 index between -0.5°C and 0.5°C) conditions will transition to El Niño conditions during May-August 2014.
During the transition to El Niño conditions, spatial distribution of rainfall will likely be irregular, and rainfall totals will be below average during the months of June-August, especially in the Pacific areas of Central America and throughout Haiti. Poor spatial distribution of rains, and below-average totals, could impact Primera crop development in the dry areas of Guatemala (Jalapa, Zacapa, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Baja Verapaz, and Jutiapa departments); Honduras (Olancho, Francisco Morazán, Choluteca, La Paz, and El Paraiso departments); and El Salvador (Chalatenango, La Unión, San Miguel, Morazán, and Cabañas departments). In Haiti, the spring harvest (particularly in Nord Ouest, Artibonite, Nipes, and Ouest departments), and sowing for the fall harvest (August to mid-October) could be also affected by rainfall deficits.