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70 Percent Mexico Affected by Drought

A long-term drought that has hit two-thirds of Mexico is likely to worsen in coming weeks with forecasts of high temperatures and warnings of crop damage and water supply shortages on the horizon, including in the populous capital of Mexico City.

Experts are sounding the alarm that parched crops could under-produce after temperatures hit 40 degrees Celsius (104F) on June 30 in some parts of northern Mexico, including key farming areas.

“In some states, irrigation is practically disappearing due to lack of precipitation,” said Rafael Sanchez Bravo, a water expert at Chapingo Autonomous University, noting low reservoirs and reduced water transfers to Mexican farms.

While rains were 3 percent below average across Mexico as a whole last year, the strain on water reserves was exacerbated by increased domestic demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hopes to replenish Mexico’s parched reservoirs now hinge on the traditional rainy season, known formally as the North American Monsoon, which is currently under way.

“The next three months will be really crucial in how this drought turns out,” said Andreas Prein, an atmospheric scientist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Much of Mexico gets between 50 percent and 80 percent of its annual rainfall between July and September.

Water shortages are common in parts of Mexico, but have worsened amid heat extremes blamed on climate change, according to scientists and data from Mexico’s federal water commission CONAGUA.

About 70 percent of Mexico is affected by drought, up from about half in December. About a fifth of the country is experiencing extreme drought compared with less than 5 percent each year since 2012.

Read the full article at aljazeera.com.

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