Leveraging ag-met information to study Hurricane Eta’s impacts on agriculture in Honduras
Copyright LPhot Robert Oates/AP

Leveraging ag-met information to study Hurricane Eta’s impacts on agriculture in Honduras

Guest Post by Oscar David Calvo-Solano

Eta was the 28th tropical storm and the 12th hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean in 2020. It was the 5th major hurricane in 2020 and the second most powerful, just after hurricane Iota.

Eta hit Central America as a category 4 hurricane on November 3, 2020 and was an active system from October 31 to November 14. It touched the continental part of Central America on the shores of Nicaragua and Honduras. In this brief blog entry, we are going to focus on Honduras and demonstrate how aWhere’s ag-met tools are useful in representing this kind of extreme weather event. 

Hurricane Eta brought a significant amount of precipitation. Figure 1 shows the observed Accumulated Precipitation in Honduras during the first week of November.  In the northern part of the country the total amount of rain during this week was greater than 250 mm. This situation impacts infrastructure, the economy, and of course agriculture. 

Figure 1. Honduras: Accumulated Precipitation (mm) from November 2, 2020 to November 8, 2020.

Also, if we take into account the Accumulated Precipitation Difference from the LTN value (Figure 2) we notice that in the northern territories of Honduras these differences are around 150 mm up to 300 mm. These conditions may cause flooding (Quesada-Hernández, Calvo-Solano, Hidalgo, Pérez-Briceño & Alfaro, 2019).

Figure 2. Honduras: Accumulated Precipitation Difference from LTN value from November 2nd, 2020 to November 8th, 2020.

Eta first hit Honduras in the Department of Gracias a Dios. If we analyze the meteorological conditions during the 2020 Hurricane Season and specifically during the week of November 2- 8 of this year we can notice that this Department shows the same behavior as the northern part of the country as shown above. Figure 3 shows the Weekly Climate Chart for Gracias a Dios in Honduras from June 1 (start of the Hurricane Season in the Atlantic Ocean) up to November 8. We can see that during the last week shown in this chart, the amount of rain was 200 mm above the long-term normal value. Figures 2 and 3 show the value of combining geospatial information with meteorological datasets, both available in aWhere’s tools in our adaptER Platform.

Figure 3. Weekly Climate Chart for Gracias a Dios - Honduras from June 1, 2020 to November 8, 2020.

The negative impacts on agriculture due to the hurricane are immense. We can study these impacts by analyzing the Precipitation over Potential Evapotranspiration (P/PET) Difference from the Long-term Normal value (Figure 4). During hurricane Eta this measure was above 1.0 and, if we look at the northern part of Honduras during the first week of November we notice that these values were above 3.0. This corresponds to the Departments of Gracias a Dios, Cortés, Yoro, Atlántida and Colón. These five Departments were under Red alert during the week shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Honduras: Precipitation over Potential Evapotranspiration (P/PET) Difference from the Long-term Normal value from June 1, 2020 to November 8, 2020.

In the five Departments mentioned above, agriculture is a  main driver of the local economy (Calvo-Solano, Quesada-Hernández, Hidalgo & Gotlieb, 2018). Despite the fact that values above 1.0 in the P/PET index are good for certain crops such as maize and beans in the Departments of Gracias a Dios and Yoro; maize and rice in Cortés; Cocoa in Atlántida and Yoro and coffee in Colón and Atlántida; the values shown on Figure 4 may negatively impact agriculture because of flooding and soil saturation. 

Leveraging ag-met information and using these resources as geospatial maps and climate charts could lead to the development of Early Warning Systems and give farmers in Central America an insight of how their crops could be affected by weather. If you want to know more on how to use this information to support farmers in your area of interest, please contact us here

References

Calvo-Solano, O. D., Quesada-Hernández, L., Hidalgo, H., & Gotlieb, Y. (2018). Impactos de las sequías en el sector agropecuario del Corredor Seco Centroamericano. Agronomía Mesoamericana, 29(3), 695–709. https://doi.org/10.15517/ma.v29i3.30828

Quesada Hernández, L. E., Calvo Solano, O. D., Hidalgo, H. G., Pérez-Briceño, P. M., & Alfaro, E. J. (2019). Dynamical delimitation of the Central American Dry Corridor (CADC) using drought indices and aridity values. Progress in Physical Geography, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309133319860224