Weather records show that 2018 was a dry year for Grand Cayman, with rainfall measured at Owen Roberts International Airport more than 20 percent below normal.
The 30-year average for the island is 56.2 inches, but just 43.5 inches was measured for the past year. The data was included in an annual summary of weather systems that affected the Cayman Islands, which was compiled by the National Weather Service.
While 2017 rainfall was above average – the 59.3 inches that fell made it the wettest year since 2010 – 2016 was the driest on record. Just 29 inches fell that year, the lowest since records started being kept in 1957.
The wettest month of 2018 was September, when 13.5 inches fell, 54 percent more than the 8.74 inches the month usually sees. March was the driest with just 0.29 inches, a mere 22 percent of the 1.32-inch 30-year average for the month.
Director General John Tibbetts said the long-term trend is for the nation to experience drier weather.
“A number of years ago we did a climate change study,” Mr. Tibbetts said. “The gradual trend is toward a drying impact.”
The annual weather systems report is primarily generated for a regional meeting of Caribbean nations in order to review the year’s weather events. “Every year, I get together with the national weather service directors from around the Caribbean,” Mr. Tibbetts said.
At this year’s conference, they discussed the impacts of hurricanes, such as Isaac and Michael, and the “significant flooding” experienced by Trinidad and Tobago in October.
The weather events listed in Cayman’s annual summary of weather systems are those that generated a half inch or more of rain in a 24-hour period, or that required a high-seas warning for small boats. Looking at the list of weather events, Mr. Tibbetts said, can be revealing.
“One of the things most Caymanians tend to notice is the Nor’westers we had in the past were much more powerful,” he said.
In truth, he said, the systems may be similar in intensity, but because of changes in the George Town waterfront, the coastline is better protected from waves and flooding. Mr. Tibbetts emphasized that the annual summary is not a climate report. That report, which will be issued in the coming weeks, will include not only rainfall, but temperature and wind recordings along with an analysis of the data.