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The weatherman had predicted reduced rains

By Graham Kajilwa | June 28th 2021

The Kenya Meteorological Department Headquarters in Nairobi on May 13, 2020. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Farms in the North Rift paint a picture of reduced rains predicted by the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) in its 2021 weather forecast.

Now farmers in 16 counties that make up the country’s food basket are only hoping that the weather pattern could change to save their crops from dying.

A report by the Met had indicated that the North Rift, Western Kenya and parts of the South Rift were not going to receive a good amount of rains this year.

Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori and Bomet are some of the counties affected by this drop in rains.

Others are Laikipia, Nakuru, Kericho, Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma, Busia, Kisii and Nyamira.

KMD Assistant Director for Public Weather Services Mary Kilavi said the drop in rainfall is a result of temperature and wind regime changes.

She said it will take more analysis of past weather patterns to tell if this drop of rainfall is unique or a trend.

“However when you look at the last two years the areas have been receiving above-normal rainfall,” said Lihavi.

The reduction of rains experienced early in the year followed long rains that ended in May in some parts but extended to June in the highlands west of the Rift Valley, Lake Basin region, Central, South Rift Valley and Coast, leaving out the North Rift.

Lihavi said the country is recovering from long rains, which in May recorded a high of 272.5mm in Garissa.

As per the weatherman’s June 2021 forecast, several parts of the country were predicted to be generally dry and sunny during the month.

“However, near-average rainfall is expected over most parts of western Kenya while the Coastal strip is likely to experience near-average rainfall tending to below-average (depressed) rainfall,” reads the forecast report.

It adds: “Near-average rainfall is expected during the month of June 2021. It is however expected to be below average during the first half of the month and near average during the second half of the month.”

Trans Nzoia County Meteorological Services Director Edward Amoni says the country is experiencing depressed rainfall because it is currently in a neutral phase due to weak Indian Ocean winds.

He said the country is coming out of La Niña phase, which it experienced last year. 

Amoni says in addition to low temperatures from the Indian Ocean, the moisture from the Congo basin, which is often pushed towards the western region by Atlantic winds has been weak, hence affecting the June rains.

“We normally have high-pressure winds that push moisture from Congo Forest. This explains why we haven’t seen rains mid-year in the region,” he says.

He further attributes the current low rains to climate variability, noting that the country had experienced recurring La Niña cycles since 2018.

He adds that though the situation might improve in July, the region is unlikely to receive adequate rainfall in the coming months.

“The harvest will be low due to the depressed rainfall. However, small-scale farmers who can adopt irrigation should do so. We hope the season will improve and enable farmers to sustain good harvests,” he said.

The March to May 2021 seasonal rainfall has ceased over several parts of the country except over the Lake Victoria Basin, the highlands west of the Rift Valley, the Central and South Rift Valley and the Coastal strip as had been predicted. 

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