The El Niño Effect

Visionary I

“HOT! HOT! HOT!” was exactly the expression I used to describe Antigua ever since arriving late July.


     Coming to find out that the abnormal heat phenomenon is linked to the El Nino effect.

El Niño is the term used to refer to warmer than usual ocean surface temperatures near the equator in the Pacific Ocean.

The Caribbean being prone to being dry, or even ‘very dry’ is a major effect along with droughts according to 2009-2010 and 2014-2016 studies conducted by The UWI and CIMH.


    El Niño events are also associated with a REDUCED number of hurricanes due to less than conducive conditions for development caused by stronger upper atmospheric winds. However, the Caribbean along with other parts of the world are visited by tropical storms and other systems. 

    In addition to contributing to very hot days and nights and more heatwaves, the very warm Caribbean Sea may provide windows of opportunity for a very strong hurricane to develop, notwithstanding El Niño’s dampening effect. For this reason, the region can never let down its guard as it only takes one hurricane.


    To compound the issue, the Caribbean Sea is relatively warm throughout the year (27.1- 29.4 degrees celsius or 80.1-84.9 degrees fahrenheit), August and September being the warmest at 29 - 29.4 degrees celsius /84.2 - 84.9 degrees fahrenheit. This adds to the uncertainty about if and how regional drought and the hurricane season activity will evolve this year as warm seas around the Caribbean ejects more moisture and heat into the atmosphere.

BTW — The water off the Florida Keys broke records at 101.4 F

This moisture absorbed from the environment is used to feed the tropical storms, hurricanes and other systems while resisting areas with a heat dome.


    The mentioned natural disasters amongst others are no exception to causing immense economic setbacks. An impact on one Caribbean country and may also affect nearby territories if not the entire region. 

Very warm seas affect coastal marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and seagrass beds, and offshore fisheries may experience disruption of seasonal patterns and uncertain catches. The UWI-CIMH research also shows that the concurrent state of both the Pacific and Atlantic (both warm this year) has a strong impact on how the rainy season will unfold.


    Caribbean governments along with other affected countries, residents and other interests are urged to continue paying close attention to shifts in global climate including the likely emergence of El Niño this year. Also urge to draw upon the available resources and scientific expertise in understanding the implications for societies and in crafting their response.


NOTE: The State of the Caribbean Climate Report 2020 produced by The UWI, CIMH and other collaborators, and funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), should also be consulted for further information on what an El Niño event may mean for the Caribbean. The UWI GICSRD and CIMH will continue to monitor the changing climate conditions and issue additional releases.Caribbean be warned: El Niño looking more likely – CARICOM Today