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Areas affected by drought. Areas affected by drought. Yellow indicates high impact, orange severe and red extreme.

Moderate to extreme drought is affecting one-fifth of the country

Lower than normal rainfall recorded in first half of May

Just over one-fifth of Mexico’s territory is affected by moderate to extreme drought, according to the National Meteorological Service (SMN).

The weather service said in a new report that 21.1% of the country is suffering from drought conditions, an increase of 4.4% compared to the previous report, published at the end of April.

“During the first half of May 2019, lower than normal rainfall was observed in much of the country, which caused an increase of moderate drought areas in the west, center and south . . . while in the border region between Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla a severe drought area has emerged,” the report said.

Part of the land in the catchment areas of the Coatzacoalcos, Grijalva and Usumacinta rivers is also considered to be in extreme drought, the SMN said, explaining that a total of 20 municipalities in Veracruz, Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas are affected.

In northern Veracruz and southern Tamaulipas, drought conditions have caused the deaths of thousands of head of cattle either because they didn’t have sufficient grass and water or because they became struck in mud while trying to drink from water-depleted dams.

Gonzalo Alemán, director of rural development in Altamira, Tamaulipas, said that 80% of the 600 dams on farms in the area are dry and that those that still have water will run out in a week or 15 days.

In the municipality of Tampico, drought has affected the water supply for 2,000 families, forcing them to rely on tanker truck deliveries.

While just over one-fifth of the country is officially in drought, a deputy director at the National Water Commission (Conagua) said that half of the nation’s territory is feeling the effects of a lack of rain.

“We have to remember that May is the month when the highest temperatures are recorded,” Víctor Alcocer Yamanaka added.

Wildfires spurred by the hot and dry conditions burned in more than half of Mexico’s 32 states last week.

Alcocer explained that the areas of the country suffering from drought this year are different to those affected in 2018.

“. . .Last year it was on the Pacific coast including Baja California . . . There was no drought in Veracruz, Chiapas, Tabasco or Campeche . . . The drought moved from the entire coastal zone of the Pacific towards the center [of the country] and downward,” he said.

Alcocer said that there has been no significant rain in the Coatzacoalcos, Grijalva and Usumacinta river basin areas for six months, adding that Conagua is taking action to protect the limited water available in the area.

“We already applied the program of anti-drought measures in those three rivers and the basin councils have been instructed to reduce water demand and supply the public using water tankers,” he explained.

The official said that weather forecasts indicate that drought conditions should ease in June, a month when the annual rainy season should start to bring much-needed precipitation to many parts of the country.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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