[Marianas Variety] RMI Drought Crisis Expected To Slowly Ease Over Coming Months

Full relief not expected until July, weather officials predict

By Giff Johnson


MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, May 6, 2013) – As aid agencies rush funding and water-making equipment to the drought-stricken Marshall Islands, Guam-based U.S. weather officials predict that the drought will not begin to ease until July.

But while the northern Marshall Islands are severely impacted, southern islands are not facing the same conditions, reported the Marshall Islands Journal on Friday.

“Rainfall should slowly build back to normal across the Marshall Islands, starting with Majuro in May, Kwajalein by June, and into the drought-stricken northern islands by July,” said officials with the Pacific El Niño/Southern Oscillation Applications Center in Guam.

Rainfall data for the first four months of the year shows why northern islands are facing drought. Wotje received under two inches of rain the first four months of the year, according to Majuro’s Weather Station. But further to the south, Mili Atoll was awash in rain with over 46 inches for the period — about 11 inches above the normal level of rain.

Guam weather officials noted anomalies in the overall drought picture affecting the northern Marshalls since January. Despite the overall dryness of the first part of 2013, Kwajalein recorded a one-day rainfall record in April. “Very dry conditions were also experienced on Kwajalein Atoll, but an unusual extreme rainfall event occurred during which the Reagan Test Site measured 2.94 inches on the 16th of April and a further 5.56 inches on the 17th.” This amounted to a new 24-hour rainfall record for April.

Unfortunately for other northern atolls, “this major rainfall event at Kwajalein was rather localized, and brought no relief to atolls just a short distance to the north, where severe drought continues unabated,” the weather report said. “Less than one inch of rain fell at Kwajalein during all the other days of April combined.”

As the drought intensifies in the northern islands without apparent relief, the United Nations children’s organization warned about possible outbreaks of sickness from lack of clean water. “It is essential to work to prevent the outbreak of diarrhea and other infections which can be fatal to young children,” said UNICEF’s chief of policy and advocacy, Samantha Cocco-Klein. “Without clean water to drink, wash and prepare food with, infections can easily spread. The emergency response should consider how water is purified, stored and used, and continuously remind affected families of the need to keep children safe.”

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com
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