The Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) has issued an announcement indicating a high likelihood of El Nino conditions occurring in the country between October and December.
In a notice dated July 30, the weatherman reported that the El Niño and La Niña events, known collectively as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which had been in the neutral phase since March, have now transitioned to El Niño conditions.
El Niño is often associated with heavy rains and floods during the October-November-December (OND) season especially in East Africa.
“The tropical Pacific atmospheric anomalies are consistent with weak El Niño conditions which are expected to strengthen in the coming months. Based on model predictions and expert assessment, there is a very high likelihood (approximately 90% chance) of El Niño to prevail during the remaining part of the year and may extend into early 2024’ said Director of Meteorological Services Dr. David Gikungu.
KMD, however, clarified that the impact of the rainfall during the El Niño phenomenon, which is typically above average, depends on the strength of El Niño and other factors like the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) as well as local conditions.
Dr Gikungu further revealed that the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) which is currently neutral is projected to become positive from August throughout the OND season, hence heavy rainfall.
“A positive IOD is associated with above-average rainfall in Kenya during the OND season. The IOD is currently neutral and is projected to become positive in August and remain positive in September and throughout the OND season,” he said.
Kenya last experienced the effects of El Nino in 1997, resulting in exceptionally heavy rainfall and devastating floods, which was a combination of El Niño and a positive IOD.
“A combination of El Niño and a positive IOD leads to above-average rainfall during the OND season, as was the case in 1997. However, the effects of these two phenomena on the OND season vary from one year to the other. For example, 2015 was both an El Niño and a positive IOD year but the country did not experience as much rainfall as was experienced in 1997,” MET said in the update.
“A positive IOD on its own can also lead to above-average rainfall in the country as was the case in OND 2019,” Gikungu added.
“Currently, most forecast models predict the development of an El Niño event during the JJAS season, indicating a higher probability of below-average rainfall,” he said.
The weatherman assured Kenyans that they will be informed of any developments through regular updates.
“KMD will continue monitoring the situation and issue updates on the expected conditions during the OND 2023 season.”