Monday, July 15, 2024

Drought continues to affect half of Mexican territory

Mexico’s above-average rainfall in December didn’t do much to reduce the drought conditions faced in a majority of the country.

According to the latest edition of Mexico’s Drought Monitor, published every two weeks by the National Meteorological Service (SMN), the percentage of the country affected by drought stood at 55% at the end of December. That’s essentially the same as the 54% figure from the end of November, although it’s much better than the 75% figure from the end of September.

Despite the fact more than half of Mexico remains in drought, this figure has improved significantly over the 75% recorded in September. (Conagua)

Mexico measures drought conditions by assigning drought levels of moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional. Two other categories — abnormally dry and no drought — indicate no drought conditions. At the end of December 2022, only 26% of the national territory was affected by one of the four drought levels. However, at the end of December 2023, that figure was just under 55%.

In the last two weeks of 2023, above-average rainfall was observed throughout Mexico — especially in the northwest — due to the emergence of five cold fronts. Despite this, a decrease in drought conditions was observed only in the region where Hidalgo, Puebla and Veracruz share borders.

“These rains were not enough to reduce the effects of the long-term drought,” the Drought Monitor stated. In fact, areas ranked from severe to exceptional “increased in the northwest, the north Pacific, the west and the center of the country.”

According to some analysts, 2023 was the driest year in the Mexican countryside since 1957. The worst-affected states have seen reservoirs run dry, crops fail and cattle die. At the end of 2022, none of Mexico’s 32 federal entities — the 31 states and Mexico City — had any municipalities ranked in the exceptional drought category, and Tamaulipas was the only state with any regions in the extreme drought category.

Mexico’s continued water stress will be felt everywhere, particularly in terms of the agricultural crop yield, which depends on 70% of the national water supply. (Wikimedia Commons)

At the end of 2023, six states contained areas in exceptional drought, and 18 had areas of extreme drought. One of the driest states is Querétaro, which had 15% of its municipalities in exceptional drought, 51% in extreme drought, 22% in severe drought and 12% in moderate drought.

Baja California and Baja California Sur were the only states not affected by any degree of drought at the end of 2023.

With reports from El Economista

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