2016 shaping up to be driest year on record

So far this year, the Cayman Islands has had nearly 20 inches less rainfall than in an average year, according to the National Weather Service.

As of the end of October, the weather service had recorded 27.53 inches of rainfall.

“Average rainfall over the last 30 years suggests that the Cayman Islands might have expected some 47.36 inches during this period, reflecting a deficit for the year thus far of 19.83 inches,” a press release stated.

Since the Cayman Islands started keeping records in the 1950s, the driest year was 1997, when the weather service measured total rainfall of 35.61 inches, forecasters said.

“The total through October is still some 8.08 inches below that record low total,” the office reported.

According to the weather forecasters, November usually produces about 6.05 inches, but so far this month, only 0.09 of an inch of rain has been recorded. “This means that the Cayman Islands is on track to produce the lowest annual rainfall total on record by the end of this year,” the statement read.

National Weather Service Director John Tibbetts said while a weak El Nino or neutral pattern has persisted this year, leading to lower-than-normal rainfall, it is possible that a weak La Niña may form in the remaining weeks of 2016.

He said this would tend to suppress chances of a drought toward the end of the year and during the upcoming dry season. However, he said, such a change may also “tilt the odds” toward increased flash floods and long-term flooding potential in countries which are prone to such occurrences.

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