Forecasters predict higher temperatures, rainfall in first half of 2016

Weather forecasters predict the next six months will be warmer and wetter than usual in Cayman and across much of the region, due in large part to the continuing El Niño warming the Pacific Ocean, according to the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum. 

December 2015 was one of the wettest on record, with more than 5 inches of rain through the month, according to the Cayman Islands Weather Service. The 30-year average for December rainfall is about 2.8 inches. 

Last year’s rainfall patterns were almost the opposite of an average year, with very little rain in July through October, and heavy rains in November that almost doubled the 30-year average. 

Predictions from the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum call for higher than normal rainfall over the coming months in Cayman, Cuba, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. Regional forecasters predict less rain in the leeward and southern Caribbean islands, continuing a drought that has left much of the area dry over the past year. 

Forecasters with the Climate Forum say the lower rainfall in the eastern and southern Caribbean is due directly to El Niño. For Cayman and its neighbors, reduced winds in the upper atmosphere will likely lead to stronger rainstorms and increased rainfall over the coming months. 

Most of the region will likely see temperatures higher than normal, according to forecasters, with the eastern Caribbean states seeing the warmest temperatures. Cayman will likely see above-normal temperatures for the first six months of 2016, the Climate Forum notes. 

According to data from Cayman’s weather service, 2015 was not a typical year for rainfall in the region. September and October are typically the rainiest months for the islands, with a 30-year average of more than 8 inches of rain in each month. But last year only a fraction of the expected rain was recorded in those two months. 

Last year was the driest July on record, with 1.6 inches of rain, far from the average 5.8 inches the islands normally see, according to rainfall data dating back to 1957 from the Weather Service. August did not quite set a record for the least rainfall. 

About 1.3 inches fell in August 2015, the second-driest August on record after 2009, when only about half an inch of rain fell during the month. The average rainfall for August is about 5.9 inches. 

The trend turned around for November and December, typically drier months, with almost double the average rainfall for each month.  

November had more than 11 inches of rain and December had more than 5 inches. Despite the late rains, Cayman is almost 10 inches of rainfall below the 30-year annual average of about 56 inches per year. 

Rainfall graph
Last year’s rainfall patterns were almost the opposite of an average year, with very little rain in July through October, and heavy rains in November that almost doubled the 30-year average.


  1. I suspect rainfall for the rest of winter and into Spring to be Average to a bit above Average. Should expect increasing rainfall averages going Spring into summer.
    Temperatures over the next six months, well first 3 months (JFM) to be average maybe slightly below average at times. The second 3 months (AMJ) to be average to above average.

    This is mainly due to the strong El Niño which peaked in Nov/Dec 2015 (also note this El Niño has tied with the 1997/1998 El Niño for the strongest El Niño) other short-term patterns also change short-Med term condition like the North American Oscillation (NAO), Arctic Oscillation (AO) Pacific-North American (PNA) later in the year the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) etc this can change short-Med term temperatures and rainfall.

  2. Also

    We can take a peak into long range and into Hurricane Season 2016. (DISCLAIMER: Long range Hurricane Season forecast are not too accurate but they can get a general idea) Based of previous times that we have had El Niños the year after usually brings Neutral or La Niña condition (Neutral ENSO is where the waters in the equatorial Pacific waters are average causing average weather patterns over the Atlantic for tropical development. La Niña causes cooling in the Pacific and warming in the Atlantic as well as other favourable conditions in the Atlantic for tropical development) and 2016 is no different ENSO forecast issued Monday 11th Jan 2016 states the end of the current El Niño expected by spring or early Summer and the start of Neutral condition with the possibility of La Niña by the peak of 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
    So what does this indicate for the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season, well we could see anything from Average to well above Average Storms and higher impact probability. I do caution the activity is dependent on the state of the ENSO whether Neutral or La Niña as we head into the ’16 season.

    I do expect the picture to become clear once we get into April-May-June timeframe

    Side note look at all the Hurricane seasons we have had that occurred after an El Niño year. We have had a lot more storms and a lot of impacts in the region eg 1998(year after 1997 El Niño), 2005(year after 2004 El Niño), 2007(year after 2006 El Niño), 2010(year after 2009 El Niño)

  3. Another thing to keep in mind that during winters whether El Niño Neutral or La Niña changes to the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation), AO (Arctic Oscillation), and PNA (Pacific-North American Patten either positive or negative can cause warm spells/warm waves or cold wave/cold snap/"polar vortex dips" across the Continental US and downstream change Cayman’s weather

    For example the years of 1968, 2000 2010 and 2014 and possibly 2015
    Some point of winter there was negative NAO negative AO and positive PNA amongst other things and caused some really large cold snaps or deep dips in polar vortex at cause or can cause cold Arctic/polar air to dip as far South as SouthEastern US including Florida and winter storm systems developing across the southern/Gulf States and pushing "cold" cold front into the NorthWestern Caribbean giving Cayman cooler than the 70° cold average temperatures.

    These short term changes do happen so you may have an overall warm period with a few shorter cooler periods in between and cool period with a few shorter warm periods in between and cool period with even colder periods and warm period with even warmer periods

    Overall it’s a big mix mash of weather and many things can happen even though the overall pattern is one thing


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