Guishard: a dry spell but not a drought

  • Watching the patterns: Mark Guishard, the director of the Bermuda Weather Service

    Watching the patterns: Mark Guishard, the director of the Bermuda Weather Service

A dry spell that has affected summer harvests by farmers is typical for the time of year, the director of the Bermuda Weather Service said yesterday.

Mark Guishard said: “Bermuda has been in a dry spell, during what is often a dry time of year.”

Dr Guishard added: “A quick look at last year’s rainfall statistics reveals a similar pattern.

“July and August 2019 had more than one dry spell, with periods spanning weeks, during which there were total rainfall accumulations of less than an inch.

“These dry spells are often punctuated by periods of higher rainfall that bring the total closer to more average amounts.”

The island had almost half an inch of rainfall on Tuesday and recorded 27.21 inches of rain this year, down more than six inches from the usual 33.52in of rainfall. The last downpour happened on July 3 when 0.88in of rain fell.

The weather service said less than a quarter-inch of rainfall each day had been recorded since then until Tuesday.

Rainfall measurements are made at the airport by the weather service, part of the Bermuda Airport Authority, and they are the official climate record for the island.

Dr Guishard said there were days when it was dry at the airport, but other parts of the island could see heavy rain and vice versa.

He added: “This is down to chance, whenever we find ourselves in a prolonged period of spotty showers, as we are currently, versus under the influence of larger weather systems that can bring prolonged and/or consistently widespread rainfall.”

But Dr Guishard said the dry spell was not a drought. He added: “Droughts are extended, unseasonably dry periods with little or no rainfall. As the summer months regularly see weeks on end without significant rainfall, it would be incorrect to call them droughts.

“Rather, these are seasonal dry spells, that occur on a routine enough basis — annually, during the summer — that they can be anticipated.”

Dr Guishard predicted there would be an increase in rainfall as the month went on.

He said: “The historical trend is for precipitation to increase, with August normally having higher average rainfall than July.

“In the short term, we can expect to remain in this regime of on-again, off-again showers through the next few days.

“Slightly more moisture will be available for shower development on the weekend.”

He was speaking after Roger Pacheco Sr, Carlos Amaral and Tom Wadson, all farmers, said this week that their sweetcorn harvests had been affected by the hot, dry conditions.

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Published Aug 13, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 13, 2020 at 7:25 am)

Guishard: a dry spell but not a drought

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