The numbers are in, and the National Weather Service told Cayman 27 2016 was the driest year on record. It’s also a fraction of a degree away from being the hottest.
With a total rainfall of 27.98 inches, 2016 entered the record books as Cayman’s driest year….
“The previous record was 35.61 in 1997,” said NWS Director John Tibbetts.
Every month save for January, Cayman’s rainfall totals fell short of the 30-year average.
“When you go through January through April, rainfall totals just weren’t there, but we don’t expect high levels of rainfall in January through April anyway. Where the damage was done was in the summer months, where you were supposed to get rainfall but didn’t get it,” explained Mr. Tibbetts.
The deficits continued through the rainy season, topping out with a nearly 6-inch rainfall deficit in November, traditionally a wild card month.
“One minute you get a half-inch of rainfall, next year you get 20-odd inches,” he said.
Despite the dips, Mr. Tibbetts said it doesn’t quite meet the technical definition of drought.
“I might go out there and I might say we are having a very dry period or drought like type conditions, but the hydrologist would look at it a bit different,” he said.
While just shy of record-breaking, 2016’s temperatures bested the 30-year average in every month.
He said the impacts of higher temperatures should be a concern.
“How does that have an impact on sporting events, how does that have an impact on your elderly, how does it have an impact on people who aren’t as fit as they should be,” he said.
But he told Cayman 27 in terms of weather, one year, even a hot dry one, is just a snapshot.
“In terms of rainfall, in terms of the temperature, you have to look at it in the long-term,” said Mr. Tibbetts.
Mr. Tibbetts said as Cayman is not heavily based on agriculture as our eastern Caribbean neighbors, we aren’t as impacted by dry weather.