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24 August 2011

Latin America Update #43: Two tropical systems impact the Caribbean Basin

Harvey and Irene smashed through Central America and Caribbean islands. Meanwhile moisture improves across northern South America, and in the south of the continent, seasonable rainfall continues across the Rio de la Plata basin in the Pampas.

It's been an active week for tropical systems around the Caribbean Sea. Tropical Storm Harvey developed to the northeast of Nicaragua, and moved due west skimming the northern Honduras coast and making landfall in Belize before dumping heavy rainfall across northern Guatemala and nearby areas in Mexico. As Harvey spun out it's last energy over the Bay of Campeche, Irene was developing just to the southeast of the Virgin Islands. Irene gained strength quickly and made landfall on the eastern side of Puerto Rico. As it emerged on the northern side of Puerto Rico, Irene rapidly became a hurricane. It then grazed both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Currently Hurricane Irene has winds over 90 mph (145 km/h), and is moving through the Turks & Caicos. Irene moves through the Bahamas during the next 24 hours and the storm will increase in strength.  After exiting the island chain, Irene will take aim on the United States.

In South America things have been very quiet, rainfall is striking more of a balance across the north, including Venezuela and Colombia, where things had been somewhat dry. I'm beginning to distrust the data coming out of Venezuela. I'm not sure what has been happening, but the rain gauges in the country have not been matching well with the gauges in nearby countries, nor satellite data.

In the south, winter crop production continues to look good across Argentina, Paraguay, southern Brazil and Uruguay. Precipitation has been well distributed and sufficient for crops and pastures.

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