Antigua and Barbuda records Wettest April in a Decade

A pond in Antigua following recent rains

By Dale C. S. Destin – Published 10 May 2023 |

April is known for its showers across the globe, but for Antigua, it was an unusually wet month this year. It was the wettest April in a decade for the Country with 118.1 mm (4.65 in). This is over 153% of the normal total for the month, which typically sees around 77.0 mm (3.03 in) annually.

The last time the fourth month of the year had more rainfall was in 2013. This April also had the 12 highest total rainfall of all Aprils on record dating back to 1928.

The rainfall for April fell pretty much in a heap. Over 80 percent of the precipitation for the month fell in a few days with over 75 mm (over 3 in) falling in one day across some areas. Prior to this rainfall, April was projected to turn out seriously dry.

The unusually high rainfall over the few days in April was caused by a combination of factors, including a trough of low pressure and sea-breeze convergence aided by unusually light winds from non-traditional directions.

The higher-than-usual rainfall for April has also contributed to the month’s rainfall remaining on a statistically significant positive trend i.e., getting wetter, over the past 96 years. This remains the only month with a positive rainfall trend for the Country.

The above-normal rainfall for April has kept the year wetter than usual. For the year thus far,  the total is 312.2 mm (12.29 in), the most also in the last decade, for the same period. The total for January to April is 30 percent higher than the long-term average.

Since the meteorological drought ended in September, the rainfall total has been running above normal, with the last eight months totalling 890.3 mm (35.05 in), at a very healthy average of 111.3 mm (4.38 in) per month. The last eight-month period – September to April, was the wettest since 2009.

Despite this positive rainfall, our main catchment – Potworks Dam, remains dry, which is indicative of the existence of the continuation of a hydrological drought. There is also evidence of a socioeconomic drought still impacting the country. The above-normal rainfall has been good in replenishing household catchments but far from enough to do likewise for the island’s reservoirs.

Potworks Dam has been absolutely dry or below extraction level for the past two years. This is the longest stretch of such low water levels in the Dam in a decade and perhaps since its existence in the late 1960s. Usually, the wet season – July to December would result in the replenishment of the catchment; however, that has not been the case for the past two years.

The rainfall, for the past two years ending April, has been below normal, in the bottom 13 percentile of the historical data, which dates back to 1928. For a similar two-year period, only May 2014 to April 2016 was drier since the two years ending 2004.

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