The predicted El Niño rains in the October, November and December (OND) rainy season is likely to cause havoc in the Greater Horn of Africa, scientists have warned.
The IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) in its OND seasonal climate forecast has revealed that there are high chances of wetter-than-usual conditions across most parts of the region as a result of the El Niño climate phenomenon.
The forecast shows exceptionally high probability of experiencing wetter-than-usual rainfall in the eastern part of Kenya in the months of October to December.
Other areas expected to experience El-Nino in the region include southern Ethiopia and southern Somalia.
ICPAC Director Dr Guleid Artan said heavy to very heavy rainfall is also expected in southern Sudan, northern Ethiopia and western Eritrea.
On the other hand, probabilities indicate drier-than-usual conditions for isolated areas of south-western Uganda and south-western South Sudan.
Dr Artan further advised IGAD state and disaster management agencies to take all necessary measures to save lives and livelihoods during the season.
“We have now entered El Niño conditions after three years of devastating drought. This may be seen as a blessing for farmers but it can quickly become a curse,” he said during the sixty fifth Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF 65) conference at a Nairobi Hotel on Tuesday.
He said the heavy deluge is likely to increase the risk of flooding, flash floods and landslides among other adverse climate risks.
Diseases such as dengue and malaria are also likely to occur due to the El Niño weather phenomenon in 2023 and 2024.”We all remember the last El Niño in 2015/16 when downpours of torrential rains caused landslides, flash floods, and buildings to collapse. Governments and disaster management agencies are advised to take all necessary measures to save lives,” Dr Artan added.
ICPAC is a designated Regional Climate Centre for Eastern Africa by the World Meteorological Organization.
Its seasonal forecast is based on rigorous analysis of historical data, prevailing climate signals, and advanced modelling techniques.
El Niño is a climate phenomenon characterized by the periodic warming of sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.
The phenomenon Dr Hussen Seid, a climate modelling expert at ICPAC says, is a naturally occurring climate pattern due to the warming of the ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
“Another significant phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole is developing over the Indian Ocean and will reinforce the El Niño impacts,” Dr Seid noted.
The October to December constitutes a vital rainfall season, particularly in the equatorial parts of the region, contributing at least 70 percent of the annual total rainfall.
Dr Seid said that the start of the season is likely to occur early in eastern Kenya, southern Somalia, and eastern Tanzania.
Parts of northern Somalia, western Kenya, Uganda, southern South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, and north-western Tanzania are likely to record a delayed onset.
Weather and climate users are further encouraged to consult the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in their states downscaled forecasts.