STATEMENT FROM THE UK MET OFFICE
St Helena is currently experiencing unusual and exceptionally dry weather this year. In fact, rainfall so far in 2016 has been significantly lower than even during the drought in 2013. That is why the Island is currently suffering a serious water shortage.
As the dry weather continues – with no significant rainfall forecast over the coming weeks – the UK MET Office has issued the following statement outlining some of the factors which may be contributing to St Helena’s drought-like conditions this year:
“St Helena sits close to the northern edge of a large area of high pressure called the ‘South Atlantic Anticyclone’. High pressure brings dry weather because the air is not able to rise to form clouds and rain.
“The South Atlantic Anticyclone shifts in position and strength over time, and it is likely that these changes in the anticyclone drive the annual variability in rainfall across St Helena. There are many factors that can contribute to making the anticyclone move and change in strength, including sea surface temperature, changes in the south and central Atlantic Ocean, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation in the Pacific, and the influence of the African, Asian and South American Monsoons.
“Without an extensive research programme it is not possible for us to be sure which one factor is responsible for the reduction in rainfall in 2016, and it is highly likely that this results from a combination of factors coming together.
“Looking ahead, are we likely to continue the drought? November, December and January are normally very dry months on St Helena. The Met Office and European seasonal forecast models show that close-to or below-average rainfall is likely over the coming three months. There is a chance therefore that the water shortage on St Helena may continue into the start of 2017.”
With this in mind, St Helena residents, businesses and people who use water for agriculture are again reminded to exercise great care and restraint when using water. Every drop counts, every action counts – please do your bit.
This situation is being taken very seriously by the St Helena Resilience Forum, which will keep the public informed through frequent updates on consumption versus collection.
Leaflets and posters containing water saving tips have also been distributed to local shops and public buildings and people are encouraged to pick up a leaflet to see how they can limit their water use.
21 November 2016