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Average to above-average performance recorded for both long rains and start of kiremt rains

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • East Africa
  • June 30, 2023
Average to above-average performance recorded for both long rains and start of kiremt rains

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  • Key Messages
  • Seasonal Progress
  • Forecast
  • Partner
    USGS
    Key Messages
    • The 2023 long rains season (which spans March – May or April – June in different parts of the region) generally concluded with average to above-average to average cumulative rainfall totals, although below-average rainfall totals were observed in much of central and southern Somalia and localized areas in southern Kenya and the East Africa coastal strip.

    • Meanwhile, the start of the June – September seasonal rains in Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, and western Kenya have also been largely average to above average. However, in northwestern Kenya and neighboring northeastern Uganda, and southeastern South Sudan into southern Ethiopia observed below-average rainfall performance during this period.

    • Rangeland resources (pasture and surface water) remained favorable over vast areas of the Horn as of the end of June, though below-average vegetation conditions are observed in much of Kenya and southern and central Somalia. Agricultural production prospects are forecast to be mostly average and much better than in 2022.

    • The rainfall outlook for July is mixed, according to available forecasts, with below-average rainfall amounts likely across the northern and western sectors of East Africa. However, the western Ethiopian highlands and much of Sudan and South Sudan are likely to remain wet, with average rainfall amounts forecast throughout July. A normal risk of flooding exists along the Nile basin and surrounding areas.


    Seasonal Progress

    Overall, cumulative rainfall in the March to June period has been average to above average (Figure 1), reflecting the performance of the rainy seasons that span March-May in much of the region and April-June in Somalia. The areas that recorded the greatest positive anomalies during this period are Yemen, Djibouti, northeastern Ethiopia, northern Somalia, and parts of eastern and northern Kenya extending into the southernmost regions of Somalia, where cumulative totals exceed 150 percent of normal, making for the wettest season on record in some of these areas. Meanwhile, below-average rainfall was recorded in parts of central and southern Somalia and in localized areas of the East Africa coastal region, southern Kenya, and western Ethiopia/Sudan/South Sudan border regions.

    Figure 1

    CHIRPS cumulative rainfall, March 01– June 30, 2023 percent of 1991-2020 average
    Map of East Africa showing CHIRPS cumulative rainfall, March 01– June 30, 2023 percent of 1991-2020 average

    Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

    Meanwhile, the June – September rainy season over Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Eritrea, and western Ethiopia has started with mostly average to above-average rainfall performance in June (Figure 2). This is largely attributed to the unusually fast progression of the tropical rainfall belt (ITCZ) into its northern-most location in Sudan, Eritrea, and northern Ethiopia, resulting in heavy rainfall in these areas in June. However, early-season deficits have been recorded in northwestern Kenya, the neighboring Karamoja region of Uganda, and southern Ethiopia’s central and northern rift valley regions.

    Figure 2

    CHIRPS cumulative rainfall, June 01 – 30, 2023, as percent of 1991-2020 average
    Map of East Africa showing CHIRPS cumulative rainfall, 01 – 30 June, 2023, as percent of 1991-2020 average

    Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

    Overall, the impacts of the recent rains have generally been beneficial for pasture and water resources, as evidenced by satellite-based observations and available field assessments. According to the satellite-based NDVI/eVIIRS, vegetation conditions as of June 21 – 30 were significantly above average in much of Yemen, Ethiopia, parts of southern and western Sudan, and northern Somalia (Figure 3). However, there are expanding regions of drier-than-normal conditions in southern and central Somalia, Kenya, eastern South Sudan, northeastern Tanzania, and southeastern Ethiopia given prevailing hotter-than-normal conditions. Surface water conditions are generally good across eastern Horn and are likely to remain favorable despite gradually declining during the hotter-than-normal dry season.

    Figure 3

    NDVI/eVIIRS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), percent of the 2012-2021 median, June 21 - 30, 2023
    Map of East Africa showing evMODIS/eVIIRS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), percent of the 2003-2022 median, June 21- 30, 2023

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    The following is a country-by-country update on recent seasonal progress to date:

    • In Somalia, the April – June gu season concluded with below-average cumulative rainfall totals over large parts of the central and southern regions after an early cessation of rainfall in May/June in some areas. In contrast, cumulative rainfall was average to above average in much of the north and in southern-most areas. Vegetation improved in response to the seasonal rainfall, though drier-than-normal conditions prevailed in much of central and southern Somalia as of the end of June. Maize production is expected to be below average due to flooding in riverine areas. However, sorghum production is expected to be average. Rangeland resources are expected to continue deteriorating in the coming months alongside hotter-than-normal conditions during the remainder of the dry season through September before the start of the deyr seasonal rains in October.
    • In Ethiopia, the February – May belg seasonal rainfall performance was mostly average to above average, with expected above-average crop production over belg-dependent areas of southern, central rift valley, and north-eastern Ethiopia. Vegetation conditions in these regions have generally remained significantly greener-than-normal with favourable surface water levels. Meanwhile, the start of the kiremt season (the main crop production season for western, northern, and central Ethiopia) was mixed, ranging from an early to slightly delayed onset. In contrast, the June rainfall performance has been below average in much of the south and east, which are also forecast to remain typically hot and dry through July. Given these deficits and current forecasts, there is growing concern for meteorological drought conditions emerging in kiremt-receiving areas of Ethiopia. Meanwhile, a moderate risk of flooding exists over western Ethiopian highlands with the forecast seasonal rains.
    • In Kenya, planting and development of the February to September unimodal long rains cereals continues under generally favorable conditions, except in the minor central-eastern and coastal areas where ongoing dry conditions continue to impact crop production. In June, rainfall declined along the coast, and the March to May long rains ended in bimodal pastoral and marginal agricultural areas, resulting in deteriorating vegetation conditions. In the high production areas of western and Rift Valley Kenya, the maize crop is in reproductive to early maturity crop stages, and mostly in favorable condition, with near-average yield prospects expected. In pastoral areas, rangeland resources are currently very good in northern and parts of eastern Kenya, but hotter-than-normal conditions are likely to persist through July, which is likely to further deteriorate pasture and surface water conditions during the dry season.
    • In Sudan, the June – September seasonal rains have started well, with largely average to above-average rainfall amounts received across the country in June. This is attributed to the rapid northward progression of the tropical rainfall belt (ITCZ).  However, slight early season deficits were recorded in localized parts of Gedaref, Sennar, and Blue Nile States. Overall, the vegetation and cropping conditions are favorable in response to ongoing rains, with most rain-fed crops in vegetative stages. According to FEWS NET’s BERM (basin excessive rainfall maps), there is moderate to high flood risk over parts of northern Kordofan and West Darfur regions of Sudan in the coming weeks as heavy rains are forecast to continue in these regions.
    • In South Sudan, early season rainfall performance in June has also been average to above average, with areas of slightly below-average rainfall in the southeast, northeast, and in localized areas along the Nile Basin in the center of the country.  Meanwhile, cropping conditions as measured by crop water availability modelling (WRSI) are largely near average across the country, but with mediocre to poor maize crop conditions between Central and Eastern Equatoria regions of southern South Sudan and mediocre over parts of Unity. Due to poor distribution of rainfall and hotter-than-normal land surface temperatures in May and June, vegetation conditions are below average in vast parts of the country as of the end of June. Flood risk remains moderate given heavy rainfall is forecast in July, but likely to be less than the last two years. Meanwhile, the cumulative rainfall in the July – September season is forecast to be below average overall.
    • In Uganda, the March – June first rainy season in bimodal areas concluded with mostly average cumulative rainfall. In June, rainfall deficits were primarily evident in eastern Karamoja, bordering drier northwestern Kenya. Vegetation conditions across the country were close to average as of the end of June. Meanwhile, the maize crop in southern and central bimodal areas is currently in reproductive stages and in good condition. However, due to erratic and below-average seasonal rainfall, there are concerns for below-average yield prospects in some northern and eastern districts. A moderate to high risk of flooding is likely to persist in localized areas of eastern Uganda, especially around the flood-prone slopes of Mt. Elgon, due to persistently heavy rainfall in recent months.
    • In Burundi, the Season B maize crop is in the reproductive to maturity stages and in near-average condition. Rwanda’s maize crop is largely in the mediocre stage, with an increased likelihood of below-average yields in localized provinces that experienced excessive rainfall and flash floods. Meanwhile, vegetation conditions are close to normal across both countries as of the end of June. Little or no rainfall is forecast during the remainder of the dry period until the onset of Season A rains in September.
    • In Yemen, well above average rainfall amounts were received throughout the March – May first season, with the greatest rainfall amounts received over western coastal and highland areas. Heavy rainfall resulted in flooding in several parts of the country in May. Vegetation conditions were largely above normal as of the end of June. Rainfall subsided in June, as is typical. Comparatively dry conditions are likely to continue with below-average rainfall performance forecast in July, with a gradual decline in vegetation conditions expected given this and forecast hotter-than-normal temperatures.

    Forecast

    The GEFS two-week rainfall forecast valid indicates moderate to localized very heavy rains over the northern and western sectors of the region, particularly over the western Ethiopian highlands, much of Sudan and South Sudan, and western Kenya into eastern and northern Uganda. The East Africa coastal strip is also likely to remain wet, with moderate to heavy rainfall forecast during this period.

    Observed and forecast rainfall for June 1 through July 15 is indicative of increasing rainfall deficits over central and northern parts of Sudan, southern Somalia, western Kenya, the Karamoja region of Uganda into south-central-north Ethiopia rift valley regions, and the East Africa coastal strip (Figure 4). The region is expected to remain typically hot, apart from the central highlands of Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Burundi, where below-normal temperatures are forecast in July.

    Meanwhile, the IRI Sub-X forecast for the period of July 15-21 largely shows below-average rainfall performance forecast, particularly in western Kenya, Uganda into southeastern South Sudan, parts of northern Sudan, south-central-northeastern Ethiopia, and western Yemen (Figure 5).

    Figure 4

    Cumulative observed and rainfall forecast for June 01 – July 15, 2023, expressed as percent of the 1991-2020 average; based on CHIRPS prelim data for June 01 - 30, and unbiased GEFS forecast for July 01 - 15, 2023
    Map of East Africa showing cumulative observed and rainfall forecast for June 01 – July 15, 2023, expressed as percent of the 1991-2020 average; based on CHIRPS prelim data for June 01 - 30, and unbiased GEFS forecast for July 01 - 15, 2023

    Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

    Figure 5

    IRI Sub-X rainfall probability forecast for July 15 - 21, 2023
    Map of East AFrica showing IRI Sub-X rainfall probability forecast for July 15 - 21, 2023

    Source: IRI/CPC

    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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