"Mexico Hit By Lowest Rainfall In 68 Years"

"MEXICO CITY -- Mexico is suffering from its driest year in 68 years, killing crops and cattle in the countryside and forcing the government to slow the flow of water to the crowded capital.

Below-average rainfall since last year has left about 80 of Mexico's 175 largest reservoirs less than half full, said Felipe Arreguin, a senior official at the Conagua commission, which manages the country's water supply. ...

More than 1,000 cattle have been lost due to lack of rainfall, and up to 20 million tons of crops managed by 3.5 million small farmers are at risk of being lost, agriculture groups say.

The arid northwest region of Mexico has been hardest hit, along with the central part of the country surrounding Mexico City where 20 million people live.

Mexico typically has a rainy season from around June to October, topping up lakes and reservoirs that supply much of the country's water during the rest of the year.

The El Nino weather phenomenon, a warming of the seas in the Pacific Ocean, has induced a dry spell in South America and is likely partly to blame for Mexico's lack of rain, experts say."

Noel Randewich reports for Reuters August 20, 2009.

Thursday, August 20, 2009