Puerto Rico Drought Expands; Limited Water for Hundreds of Thousands
While U.S. drought focus continues to be firmly on California and the West Coast, nobody is feeling the pinch of drought worse than the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where hundreds of thousands of residents are suffering under increasingly strict water restrictions.
More water restrictions are being enacted this week that are expected to impact 17,500 more households on top of the 400,000 people already under severe water restrictions, with some people receiving water only every third day. The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared part of the island a natural disaster zone due to crop and livestock losses due to the dry conditions.
The commonwealth is deeply in debt, with some referring to it as “America’s Greece”. The drought is already exacerbating an already serious financial situation on the island, and further financial impacts are expected as the drought has intensified significantly over the last two months.
So far this year, San Juan is 9.64″ below its average year-to-date rainfall of 26.73″, with about half of that deficit coming since the start of June. According to the United States Drought Monitor, more than 77 percent of the island is in drought conditions, up from just 16 percent three months ago.
Little long-term help is on the horizon for the island, which happens to be approximately the size of West Virginia, partially as a result of continued expected El Nino conditions. A below-average tropical season may be good news in terms of possible devastating impacts from hurricanes, but it could rob the island of a major source of rainfall.
Stay with WeatherNation for all the latest on the continued drought on the island.
Meteorologist Chris Bianchi