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Light rains in many areas of Costa Rica prompt concerns for next year

An unusually light rainy season could spell trouble for next year, officials from the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) said.

“If it doesn’t start to rain more soon, it likely would mean that next year’s rainy season will be delayed,” said Juan Diego Naranjo, a meteorologist with the IMN. “You could say that this indicates the dry season next year will be extended.”

The reason, Naranjo said, is the weather phenomenon El Niño, which has caused unusual rain patterns in Costa Rica all year. Caused by a band of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean, El Niño normally has global effects, but so far this year it has been restricted to Central America. Experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. say that they believe El Niño will begin to have effects across the globe starting in November and lasting through mid-2015, exacerbating the rain problems in Costa Rica.

While the northern Caribbean has had record amounts of hard rainfall, between January and August Costa Rica’s Central Valley saw a 30 percent drop in average rainfall; towns along the central and southern Pacific coast saw between 20-50 percent drops; and Guanacaste, in the country’s northwest, saw 57 percent less rain than normal.

“This will have serious weather consequences for Costa Rica, like higher temperatures, but it also means consequences for energy production and a lack of drinking water in the dry season,” Naranjo said. “We here at the IMN are definitely concerned.”

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