By Mary Hearty

In the next three months, Kenya is most likely to experience enhanced rainfall, with most parts of the country expecting more intense rainfall in April. However, in the Coastal strip, the rainfall peak is expected in May.

This is  according to the Kenya Metrological Department (KMD) weather outlook for March-April-May 2022 long rains season.

The season is expected to experience a normal onset with fair distribution in most parts except the arid and semi-arid (ASAL) areas which will have poor distribution.

Stella Aura, Director of the KMD during the release of the weather outlook said the March to May period is always the major rainfall season over most of parts of Kenya and much of equatorial Eastern Africa.

Moreover, the highest rainfall amounts- that are greater than 300mm- are normally recorded over the regions predicted to experience rainfall near to above normal rainfall this year.

These regions include: the Highlands West of the Rift Valley, the Lake Victoria Basin, Central and South Rift Valley, the Highlands East of the Rift Valley, Nairobi County included, and the Southeastern lowlands whereas, near average rainfall is expected over the North-eastern and the Coastal regions.

For the expected onset and cessation dates for the various counties, Aura said the Southern parts of the Rift Valley and counties in the Lake Victoria basin, the rainfall is expected to continue from February, while the cessation is expected to continue to June 2022, and the distribution is expected to be good.

These counties are Siaya, Kisumu, Homabay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Narok, Bomet, Kericho, and parts of Kajiado,.

For counties in the Highlands West of the Rift Valley, the rainfall is expected in the second to third week of March 2022, and it will continue into June 2022. The distribution is expected to be good.

These counties are Trans Nzoia, Baringo, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, West Pokot, Nandi, Laikipia, Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma and Busia.

The Highlands East and Central of the Rift Valley is expected to start experiencing rainfall from the third to fourth week of March 2022, and the cessation is expected in the third to fourth week of May. The distribution of the rain is expected to be good. These counties are Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Embu, Meru, Kiambu, Nyandarua, and Nairobi,

For the coastal region, that is, the counties of Lamu, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, some parts of Tana River, rainfall is expected in the fourth week of March to the first week of April, and it is expected into the first week of June, 2022, but the distribution is poor.

The North West, that is, the counties of Turkana, Samburu, the rainfall is expected from the fourth week of March, to the first week of April, 2022, the cessation is expected from the third to fourth week of May, and into June, but the distribution is poor.

The North-eastern counties, that is, Wajir, Isiolo, Garissa, Mandera, Marsabit, rainfall is expected in the fourth week of March to the first week of April, 2022. The cessation is from the third to fourth week of May, 2022, and the distribution is expected to be poor.

Regarding the temperature forecast, she stated that above average temperatures are expected over most parts of the country except the Lake Victoria basin, Highlands West of Rift Valley, Southern Rift Valley, and the extreme North-western parts of the country, where near average temperatures are expected.

The expected heavy rainfall is likely to be conducive for the agriculture, food security and livestock sectors.

Therefore, the Director of the KMD urged the farming communities in the agricultural counties to take advantage of the rains and maximize for crop yield through appropriate farming and land use management practises.

She also advised farmers to liaise with the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Extension Officers for further advice.

She further explained that the near average rainfall expected over the arid and semi-arid lands of the north eastern and coastal region may regenerate pasture and grass as the season progresses, but recovery from the current drought may take some time. Thus the current shortage of food, water and pasture for humans, livestock and wildlife is likely to persist for some time.

Consequently, the persistent shortage of food, water and pasture may lead to human- wildlife- and- intercommunity conflicts over the limited resources. Strategies and plans for averting such incidences need to be put in place.

Other potential impacts that these heavy rains would cause are soil erosion; where Aura explained: “Due to the prolonged drought being experienced which has led to land degradation; the expected rains will lead to further soil erosion. So, the public need to put in place soil conservation measures.”

Additionally, with the expected vast rainfall, counties with high temperatures may encounter emergence of pests and diseases. Relevant authorities are therefore advised to stock enough pesticides and put in place systems to enhance surveillance for control and prevention.

Cases of flooding due to enhanced rainfall are expected in areas such as Budalangi and Nyando, as well as along rivers over the south eastern province like Tana River, and Garissa County.

So, the national and county governments as well as humanitarian organizations are advised to continue with measures that are already being implemented to avert loss of lives, livelihoods, and livestock.

For instance, there need to early warning messages through the community officials, national government organizations and community-based organizations to sensitize all the communities during such period.

Lightning strikes are also highly expected especially in Kisumu, Nandi, Bungoma, and Kakamega County, while landslides are expected in the hilly areas of North West of the Rift Valley as well as parts of the Highlands East of the Rift Valley.

The ministry of interior and coordination of national government, county government and humanitarian institutions are therefore advised to put in place measures to avert possible negative impacts that may arise including loss of lives, livelihoods and property.

The forecast for March-April-May (MAM) 2022 “Long-Rains” Season is based on the prevailing and the expected evolution of Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies (SSTAs) over the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans as well as the Synoptic, Mesoscale and local factors that affect the climate of Kenya.

These factors were assessed using various tools including ocean-atmosphere models, statistical models, satellite derived information and expert interpretation. The global drivers considered included the Neutral Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), negative El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Quasi Biennial Oscillation (QBO) and Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO).