Hailstones defy weatherman, wreak havoc in Nyamira

Hailstones which flooded in some farms in Nyamira County. Farmers are counting losses after the icy rain destroyed their crops. [Photo by Stanley Ongwae/Standard]
Heavy rains lasting three hours destroy crops, leaving residents with no hope of any harvest.

Barely two days after the Kenya Meteorological Department warned of prolonged drought, farmers in Nyamira are counting losses after a hailstorm destroyed their crops.

The icy rain came down after three days of light showers that had started in the area.

The weatherman had warned that rains would be experienced towards the end of March and that residents should brace for tough times owing to the dry spell.

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But on Wednesday evening, it rained for close to three hours, wreaking havoc in the entire county.

Residents of Ting’a and Nyaikuro villages were most affected as hailstones destroyed their crops, leaving them with no hope for the season.

The villages were flooded with hailstones, which destroyed tea, maize, beans, bananas and other food and cash crops.

The residents said the destruction was one of the worst in recent history.

“All my maize and beans seedlings, which had reached the stage of first weeding, were shredded by the hailstones and I think it is going to be a tough season ahead,” said George Mokaya, a resident of Nyaikuro.

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While some farmers reported heavy losses on crops in farms, others reported trauma and death of livestock following the frightening storm.

Flooded houses

In some areas, the hailstones flooded houses and compounds, making it difficult for residents to leave.

According to Tom Nyang’au, an environmental scientist at Kisii University, hailstones comprise crystalline rain that would usually dissolve first before coming down as rain drops.

“Hailstones fall because the process of dissolving to become water first is not as quick, hence the solid rain,” said Dr Nyang’au, adding more such rain could fall as a result of prolonged dry spells.

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