April showers bring a record

Mango season looking ‘mediocre’ as a result

Grand Cayman had a record amount of rainfall in April, according the Cayman Islands National Weather Service. 

During the month, 7.4 inches of rain fell, shattering the old record by nearly a full inch. In April 1985, when the previous record was set, 6.41 inches of rain fell during the month. 

The 30-year average for rainfall in April is 1.27 inches, making it the driest month of the year. Last year, only 0.18 inches fell during the month. 

National Weather Service Chief Meteorologist John Tibbetts said that typically April is a dry month because the weather is transitioning from winter to summer. 

“It’s generally too late for cold fronts and too early for tropical waves, so you don’t have the weather systems that can produce cloudiness and rain showers.” 

However, this year, Mr. Tibbetts said there were three weather systems that affected the weather around Grand Cayman during April: A late season cold front that became stationary in the area around the 8th of the month, and two surface troughs that passed through, one around the 12th and the other between the 26th and 28th. 

“Those three systems brought 6.83 inches of rain out of the total, a rather big chunk,” he said. 

Mr. Tibbetts noted that the 7.4 inches of rain in April is more than the 30-year average for every month of the year except September (8.74 inches) and October (8.63 inches). 

“So it was a very wet April indeed,” he said. 

The excessive early-season rains are likely to have a major impact on summer crops, especially mangoes. William ‘Willie Penny’ Ebanks from North Side, one of Grand Cayman’s major mango producers, said the upcoming season “doesn’t look too bright”. 

Mr. Ebanks said last year there was a long dry spell leading up to mango season, which caused more fruit production. Last year’s mango season was one of the more prolific ones in recent years. 

However, this year the mango trees had less flowers, Mr. Ebanks said. 

“When the rains come early, you get more new growth in the trees and they won’t put out as much fruit.” 

In addition, Mr. Ebanks said a couple of bouts of blistering flies negatively impacting pollination of the mango trees, also reducing yield. Still, there will be mangoes this summer, he said. 

“We’ll have some, but there will be no stockpile to freeze,” he said. 

Kurt Tibbetts, who has about 150 mango trees, also said yield looked lower this season. 

“It’s looking like a very mediocre season so far,” he said. 

Mr. Tibbetts agreed that heavy early rains can effect the mango crop. 

“You get a lot of new leaves instead of blossoms,” he said. “It does cause a problem.” 

On the bright side, Mr. Tibbetts said his avocado trees are doing well. 

“The avocado season is looking exceptionally good,” he said. “Last year and the year before it wasn’t very good, so it comes and goes. Sometimes the trees just need to rest.” 

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