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Chile - Extreme drought situation with a water deficit above 70%

According to the latest Agroclimatic Monitor report on Meteorological Drought, prepared by the Emergency and Agricultural Risk Management Section of the Ministry of Agriculture, in 2019 Chile is facing an extreme drought situation with a water deficit above 70% from Curico to the North.

According to the report, the monthly data taken to measure the Standardized Precipitation Index (IPE-SPI) shows that there’s been a very similar territorial distribution throughout the year, with the exception of the month of August where the moderate drought extended to Aisen

The analysis highlights that “if the quarterly rainfall forecast of the Chilean Meteorological Directorate for the area is confirmed, the severity of the meteorological drought will most likely begin to be reflected in the Vegetation Condition Index (ICV), especially in the areas of Maule, with increasing temperatures and evapotranspiration.”

Hydrological Drought
Regarding the flow of the rivers, the August DGA Bulletin states that the flow of all rivers from the Copiapo to the O’Higgins region decreased, with the exception of the Maipo river, which had a small increase.

From Maule to Biobio the flows experienced an increase due to the rains. All the rivers are under their averages and, even the Choapa and the Maule rivers are below their historical lows.

Reservoirs nationwide have a 34% deficit with respect to their averages. The biggest deficit corresponds to the mixed reservoirs of the Central-South zone, dedicated to generation and irrigation, which have a 55% deficit, accounting for 65% of the total reservoirs. The only reservoirs that have a surplus are those dedicated exclusively to irrigation, located in the North Chico area. In any case, there was a 10% increase in the volumes stored over the previous month.

Vegetation Index (VCI)
The Vegetation Condition Index (July 28 to August 12, 2019) reflects the impact of drought on plants. The scale, which goes from 0 to 100, shows an unfavorable situation if the value is 40 or less.

By mid-August, researchers saw that the agricultural drought from Atacama to the interior of O’Higgins was consolidating, a situation that has remained practically the same throughout the whole season. On the other hand, there is a transition zone in the Maule region and a relatively stable situation from Ñuble to the South.

Forecast for September, October, and November 2019
According to the Chilean Meteorological Directorate’s quarterly forecast (September-October-November), the location that has an above-average probability of having normal conditions is the area between the province of Palena and the north of Magallanes. Maximum temperatures are expected to be warmer than normal and minimum temperatures will be colder than normal.

According to the ENSO Alert System, the status of El Niño is not active.

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