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Mostly normal start of season with generally average rainfall and favorable forecasts

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • West Africa
  • May 1, 2023
Mostly normal start of season with generally average rainfall and favorable forecasts

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  • Key Messages
  • Update on Seasonal Progress
  • Forecasts
  • Key Messages
    • ​The ITF (Intertropical Front) started its northward migration in late March. As of early May, it was located at or slightly north of its climatological position in its portion east of longitude zero (northeastern Burkina Faso) and south of its climatological position in its western portion (Figure 1).

    • ​​​​​This has resulted in mostly average to above-average rainfall totals March-May over most of the bimodal zone (Figure 2 and Figure 3), resulting in good moisture conditions for crops.

    • ​​​​​​In the Sudanian-Guinean zone, where the season is just starting rainfall has been mostly average to above-average, with expectations for this to continue through August/September.

    • Agrometeorological conditions have generally been favorable for crops in the bimodal zone.

    Figure 1

    Current vs Normal Dekadal ITF position and May 1st dekad accumulated RFE (mm)
    Current vs Normal Dekadal ITF position and May 1st dekad accumulated RFE (mm)

    Source: OAA/NCEP/CPC


    Update on Seasonal Progress
    • The ITF (Intertropical Front) northward migration started in early March and is now positioned between 12.2 and 15.0 degrees of latitude in early May.  It is 1 to 2 degrees of latitude north of its climatological location over the whole region with the exception of a small portion in northeastern Nigeria where it is slightly south of the climatological position.
    • Over the bimodal zone, total rainfall amounts (Figure 2) are mostly average to above-average (Figure 3), with isolated areas of slightly below-average totals. These isolated deficits are not expected to negatively affect crops.
    • In the Sudanian-Guinean zone, rainfall has been mostly average to above-average and the deficits are mostly small. Areas experiencing larger deficits are limited to southwestern Burkina Faso into northwestern Cote d’Ivoire, and two small areas in central Nigeria and another small one in the extreme northeast of Benin.
    • Rainfall analysis indicates that moisture conditions have been generally adequate to favorable for the development of planted crops over the bimodal zone and most of the Sudanian-Guinean zone.  While some areas of rainfall ‘deficits are present in the area, it is too early in the season for these deficits to seriously impact crop growth and development.
    • According to the short and medium term forecasts from NOAA/CPC, rainfall is expected to continue expanding northward with no indications of a significant dry spell within the next two weeks.  The ITF is expected to continue its normal northward migration during this period.

    Figure 2

    1st pentad of March to 2nd pentad of May total CHIRPS (mm)
    1st pentad of March to 2nd pentad of May total CHIRPS (mm)

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Anomaly of 1st pentad of March to 2nd pentad of May total CHIRPS in % of average of the 1991-2020 mean
    Anomaly of 1st pentad of March to 2nd pentad of May total CHIRPS in % of average of the 1991-2020 mean

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET


    Forecasts

    The seasonal forecast from NOAA-NCEP, C3S and WMO for the next three-month periods (June-August, July-September and August-October) all call for average to above-average rainfall over the whole region.

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. West Africa Seasonal Monitor May 23, 2023:  Mostly normal start of season with generally average rainfall and favorable forecasts, 2023.

    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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