El Niño expected to leave much of country dry

The first five months of the year have been dry in all but the southern Pacific, according to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional. And with El Niño growing in the far Pacific, the probability is for drought and not enough water to run all of the country’s hydro electrical generating plants.

The weather institute is predicting from 40 to 60 percent below normal rainfall for the northern Pacific and from 30 to 50 percent less rain in the Central Valley. In the central Pacific the rainfall deficit will be from 5 to 20 percent, said the institute.

In contrast, the south Pacific coast is expected to have a 15 percent deficit this month, 5 percent in August and to be 5 percent above average in September.

The northern zone will be wetter than normal this month and then be slightly below normal in August and off about 15 percent from normal in September, the institute said.

Although the northern and southern Caribbean coasts will be 20 to 40 percent wetter this month and in August, rainfall is expected to be off from 10 to 20 percent in September.

El Niño conditions are expected to extend through the first four months of next year. However, the forecast says that the impact will not be as great as in 1982 or 1997.

Guanacaste farmers and ranchers always are living on the edge because the province usually is dry. A 60 percent drop in rainfall is devastating.

Already cattle ranchers are moving their herds to compensate for the water deficit.  A loss of water behind the country’s hydro dams has caused rolling blackouts in the past.raifall071514

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