Kenya likely to experience delayed onset of short rains

short rains

Many parts of the country may experience delayed onset of the short rains which traditionally begin in October through December.

A monthly forecast provided by the Igad Climate Prediction & Applications Centre shows the rains will reach the Coast and most parts of eastern and north-eastern Kenya in November.

Short rains in Kenya

Across Kenya, the onset of the short rains season is normally October but they have only begun in Western Kenya and most parts of the Rift Valley.  

Parts of central Kenya will also receive the short rains in October, according to the forecast.

The monthly forecast, divides Kenya right in the middle.

Western Kenya is expected to continue receiving heavy rains through December.

Rainfall forecast

But the entire season will be disappointing for the entire eastern half of Kenya, which will receive below-average rains.

Still, the country is unlikely to suffer food shortage as the Rift Valley breadbasket falls in the western half expected to have adequate rainfall between now and December.

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“A drier than usual season is expected in most parts of the region, including Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, most of Uganda, Kenya, southern, central and north-western Somalia and southern Ethiopia,” Icpac said in a statement.

Kenya Meteorological department is expected to issue a downscaled version of the monthly forecast.

UK climate scientist Dr Richard Graham last month explained what might be behind the dry weather.

“There is an expectation for continued negative Indian Ocean Dipole as well as 65 per cent chance of La Niña, favouring dry conditions,” he said.

Last year the country experienced heavy rains between October and December, triggered by a strong positive Indian Ocean Dipole, which dumped heavy rains along the East African coast.

Weather experts said although this year will be drier, occasional floods cannot be ruled out.

“It is likely that episodic rainfall events leading to flash floods might occur even in areas with an increased likelihood of near and below normal rainfall,” Icpac said.

“Also, dry spells may occur in areas with an increased likelihood of above and near-normal rainfall.”

Historically, the short rains season is unpredictable and the rains are not guaranteed to fall widely every year.

Most parts of Kenya experience two rain seasons: March to May’s ‘long rains’ and October to December’s ‘short rains’.

Onset dates

June to August are mainly cool and dry over most parts of the country except for some parts in the western region that report some rains.

Considering the ongoing simultaneous emergencies affecting the region, including floods, the desert locust invasion and the COVID19 pandemic, regional and national authorities are encouraged to use this seasonal forecast to adjust contingency plans, and to update them with ten days and monthly forecasts provided by ICPAC and the National Meteorological Services.

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