Met predicts depressed short rains for 3 months

The country will experience depressed rainfall during October-November-December short rains season, the Kenya Meteorological Department has predicted.

This has been attributed to a negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) that is not favourable for good rainfall over most of East Africa and a mild La-Nina.

“Equatorial sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are near-to-below average across the central to eastern Pacific Ocean, which implies that mild La-Nina conditions are present,” reads the department's latest outlook released on Saturday.

The department said the distribution of the rainfall in time and space is expected to be generally poor over several areas especially during the month of October and the peak month of November.

The weatherman predicted the onset of rains in Western counties (Busia, Vihiga, Kakamega, Bungoma; Nyanza counties (Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Nyamira, Migori, Kisii); Central and North Rift Valley (Kericho, West Pokot, Nandi, Bomet, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Nakuru, Laikipia, Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo) in September 2020. These areas are likely to receive near-average with a tendency to below-average rainfall.

According to the forecast, the short rains are likely to begin between the third and fourth week of October in the counties located in Central Kenya as well as in Nairobi. The cessation is predicted to fall on the fourth week of November and the first week of December 2020.

Counties in the Coastal strip, South Rift Valley, North-Eastern, Southern Kenya and parts of the Coast Region are likely to experience the onset of the rains in the fourth week of October and November, which will last until the third or fourth week of December.

“In the month of December sunny and dry conditions are expected to prevail over several places as the cessation begins. Several parts of western Kenya will continue experiencing rainfall from the month of September,” the outlook read.

The Met department further noted that despite the depressed rains, isolated incidences of storms are likely, even in the areas expected to receive depressed rains, which may cause flash floods.

It also warned that water levels in the Rift Valley lakes are likely to remain high and may cause flooding in surrounding areas.

This is because catchments feeding the lakes have continued to receive above-normal rainfall since the short rains of 2019 hence may continue to yield high water levels.

Areas likely to receive below-average (depressed) rainfall include counties in Central Kenya (Nyandarua, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Murang’a, Kiambu), Nairobi County; counties in the Eastern Region (Meru, Embu, Tharaka Nithi); some counties in southeastern Kenya (Machakos, Makueni and Kitui) and North Eastern Counties (Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit, Isiolo).

Others are counties in the Coast Region (Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu and Tana River); counties in the South, North and Central Rift Valley (Kajiado, parts of Narok, parts of Laikipia, parts of Samburu and parts of Nakuru), and in South Nyanza (parts of Migori).

Igad Climate Prediction and Applications Centre’s seasonal forecast for October to December 2020 also reported generally below-average rains across the country together with late onset, and long dry spells, which present poor prospects for the upcoming season. Impacts of the poor season may spill over to 2021.

“Drier than usual conditions, late onset and long dry spell might lead to agricultural drought, presenting poor prospects for the season. In the pastoral communities, scarcity of grazing resources until May 2021 might occur,” the forecast read.