A new report from the National Weather Service and other agencies stated that above-normal rainfall in recent weeks effectively eliminated the severe drought-like conditions which plagued the territory for much of the summer.
The September Drought Update for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which was also prepared by representatives from the University of the Virgin Islands, stated that widespread rains during Tropical Storm Laura — which swiped the territory in late August — largely reduced dry conditions.
As such, there are no severe drought conditions — D1 or worse — currently being reported across the territory, with pockets of abnormally dry conditions poised to go away later this month, according to the report.
“In the U.S. Virgin Islands, late August rainfall and increased water access led to vegetation regrowth, pond filling and mild increases in crop and poultry production,” the report read. “Looking ahead: drought conditions will continue to improve and deterioration is not expected at this time.”
The report is indeed welcome news to residents who for months dealt with sporadic rainfall and record-breaking temperatures, both of which left lands parched, cisterns dry and farmers in dire need of relief.
In June, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated that all three islands shared a D2 designation, or severe drought, due to their significant precipitation deficits.
A recent extended forecast by the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum, however, showed that Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are expected to have an 80% probability of normal to above normal rainfall between September and November.
In addition, the most recent outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center calls for an 85% probability of an above normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
The September Drought Update was also prepared by representatives from the NOAA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Caribbean Climate Hub.