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Increased rainfall in December improves production prospects in the Eastern Horn

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • East Africa
  • January 20, 2016
Increased rainfall in December improves production prospects in the Eastern Horn

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  • Key Messages
  • Update on Seasonal Progress
  • Forecasts
  • Partner
    USGS
    Key Messages
    • Rainfall performance has been above average in most areas that are depend on the October to December “short rains” season, mostly over the Eastern Horn of Africa. This rainfall, which is attributable to the very strong and ongoing El Niño event, created favorable conditions for crop production.  

    • Although the seasonal rains were generally average to above average, they did cause flooding in localized areas of southern Somalia, Kenya, and Uganda. Moreover, rainfall was erratic and below average in marginal cropping areas in the southeastern lowlands of Kenya and southern Somalia. 


    Update on Seasonal Progress
    • Rainfall performance has been above average in most areas that are depend on the October to December “short rains” season, mostly over the Eastern Horn of Africa (Figure 1). Despite an erratic onset, seasonal rains intensified from November to December and improved agricultural conditions in these countries, but also resulted in flooding and property damage in low-lying and flood-prone areas of southern Somalia, western and central Kenya and parts of central Uganda. The intensity of the rains and their adverse impacts were relatively less than similar El Niño events of 1982 and 1997.
    • The short-rains season has been generally favorable for much of the main cropping areas of western and central Kenya, central and western Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and parts of Somalia. However, there were localized areas where planting was delayed and the quantity and distribution of rainfall was poor, which constrained an otherwise average to above-average cropping season. The worst-affected areas are parts of southeastern marginal agricultural areas of Kenya, parts of southern Somalia and northeastern Tanzania, where crops are showing signs of moisture stress that is likely to result in reduced yields. Latest October-December seasonal rainfall analysis from the Kenya Meteorological Services (KMS) indicate that Makindu and Garissa districts of Kenya received between 50-75 percent of their seasonal totals.
    • Meanwhile, pasture and water resources have significantly improved during this season, as depicted in the areas of above-average vegetation levels in Figure 2. However, there is less vegetation cover than usual in northern and central Somalia, northeastern Kenya, and central Tanzania. The Red Sea region of Eritrea, much of Djibouti, and, the neighbouring eastern Afar, parts of Oromia and SNNPR regions of Ethiopia have continued to experience hotter-than-average land surface temperatures during the months of September - December, worsening their ongoing severe drought conditions.

    Forecasts
    • The short-term rainfall forecasts for the next one to two weeks (NOAA/GFS) depict continued moderate to heavy rains over parts of eastern Uganda, western and southern Kenya, Burundi, and much of Tanzania (Figure 3), due to the fact that the seasonal rain-belt has shifted southwards and is well established in Tanzania. This signals the cessation of the October-December seasonal rains over much of Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan, and parts of Uganda. Meanwhile, the forecast heavy to very heavy rains (100-300 mm) in the next one to two weeks over central and southern coastal areas of Tanzania increases the likelihood for flooding in flood-prone areas in these regions.
    • The intensity of the ongoing El Niño event is expected to gradually decline to near-neutral conditions by mid-year, but will likely affect the performance of the March to May 2016 rainy season. However, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), another important climate driver in the region, is expected to be neutral, which could result in near-normal rainfall performance for much of the Eastern Horn. Preliminary ensemble forecasts indicate an increased likelihood for average to slightly above-average rains over western areas of East Africa and the Belg (February to May) producing areas of Ethiopia.
    • The regional consensus rainfall forecast is expected to be issued towards the end of February, with more updated information on the evolution of the El Niño and IOD status, by ICPAC, WMO and collaborating global climate prediction centres(www.icpac.net). 
    Figures ARC2 Rainfall Estimate (RFE) Anomaly, October to December 2015, compared to average (1983-2009).

    Figure 1

    ARC2 Rainfall Estimate (RFE) Anomaly, October to December 2015, compared to average (1983-2009).

    Source: NOAA/NWS/CPC

    Figure 2. eMODIS/NDVI Anomaly, January 1-10, 2016, compared to average (2001-2010).

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. eMODIS/NDVI Anomaly, January 1-10, 2016, compared to average (2001-2010).

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 3. One-week GFS rainfall forecast (mm), valid from January 21-26, 2016.

    Figure 3

    Figure 3. One-week GFS rainfall forecast (mm), valid from January 21-26, 2016.

    Source: NOAA/CPC

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 4

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    FEWS NET’s Seasonal Monitor reports are produced for Central America and the Caribbean, West Africa, East Africa, Central Asia, and Somalia every 10-to-30 days during the region’s respective rainy season(s). Seasonal Monitors report updates on weather events (e.g., rainfall patterns) and associated impacts on ground conditions (e.g., cropping conditions, pasture and water availability), as well as the short-term rainfall forecast. Find more remote sensing information here.

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