March to May long rains season begin

Written By: Judith Akolo

The month of March now marks the beginning of the long rains season, however the Kenya Meteorological Service has put the official onset of the season in the third week of the month.

The Weatherman in the prediction says even as the off season rains subside, the Western highlands are expected to realize the rainfall onset during the third to fourth week March while areas over the Central Highlands, Southern Coastal Strip, Southern and Central Rift Valley and are likely to experience their onset during the fourth week of March to First week of April

In the prediction signed by Director of Meteorological Services Peter Ambenje is advising the agricultural counties of Western Kenya, Nyanza, central Rift Valley, central Kenya and parts of Southeastern Kenya where near normal to above normal rainfall performance is expected, the farming communities should take advantage of the expected rains and maximize crop yield through appropriate land-use management.

“Farmers are advised to liaise with the State Department of Agriculture for advice on the appropriate seeds to be used,” says the statement and warns, “The expected late onset in some agricultural areas is, however, likely to impact negatively resulting in delayed planting and germination.”

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The Weatherman says, the Southeastern lowlands are expected to realize the onset during the fourth week of March

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Farmers in the Southeastern lowlands where depressed rainfall is expected, are advised to liaise with the State Department of Agriculture for advice on appropriate crops that are drought tolerant in order “to make the best use of the anticipated poorly distributed and depressed rainfall.”

The Met Service says the entire Northeastern, Northern Coastal Strip and Northwestern Kenya are likely to realize their onset during the first to second week of April and warns that food security is expected to deteriorate over most parts of the country and more so the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) of Kenya.

“The poor rainfall performance expected in these areas will also impact negatively on the livestock sector,” says Ambenje in the statement.

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The Kenya Meteorological Service in the forecast warns that cases of lightning strikes are likely in western Kenya with the start of the rainfall season and advises for contingency measures to be put in place to avoid loss of life and property.

The Seven Forks, Turkwel and Sondu Miriu catchment areas in the Abardares, Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon and the Mau Forests respectively, are expected to experience near-normal to above-normal rainfall during the season hence hydro-electricity power supply is expected to gradually improve.

The rainfall forecast for March 2018 is based on regression of Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies (SSTAs) on Kenyan March rainfall as well as Sea Surface Temperature (SST) gradients.

The current slightly cooler than average SSTs in the western Equatorial Indian Ocean (adjacent to the East African Coast) coupled with neutral to warmer than average SSTs in the eastern Equatorial Indian Ocean (adjacent to Australia) were highly considered.

“This constitutes a near neutral Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) that is not favorable for good rainfall in the country and more so the eastern sector,” says the weatherman.

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The specific outlooks for individual areas indicate that the Western Highlands (Kitale, Kericho, Nandi, Eldoret, Kakamega), Lake Basin (Kisumu, Kisii, Busia), Central Rift Valley (Narok, Nakuru, Naivasha), Highlands East of the Rift Valley (Nyeri, Embu, Meru, Murang’a, Kiambu), Nairobi Area (Dagoretti, Wilson, Eastleigh), Southeastern Kenya (Machakos, Makindu, Voi, Taita Taveta), and the Southern Coastal strip (Mombasa, Mtwapa, parts of Kilifi) are likely to receive near normal rainfall in March while the distribution in time and space is expected to be generally poor in most places.

The Northwestern Kenya (Lodwar, Lokichoggio, Lokitaung etc), Northern Kenya (Marsabit, Moyale, North Horr) and Northeastern Kenya (Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, El Wak, Garbatulla) and Northern Coastal Strip (Malindi, Lamu, parts of Kilifi) are likely to remain generally sunny and dry for most of the month. Occasional light to moderate rainfall may however occur especially towards the end of the month.

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