IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) has announced that the October to December 2023 climate forecast shows high chances of wetter-than-usual conditions across most parts of the Greater Horn of Africa. Notably, there is an exceptionally high probability ( more than 80%) of experiencing wetter-than-usual rainfall in southern Ethiopia, eastern Kenya, and southern Somalia.
On the other hand, probabilities indicate drier-than-usual conditions for isolated areas of south-western Uganda and south-western South Sudan.
As a result of the heavy rainfall experienced across much of the region from March to May (MAM) 2023, increased precipitation from October to December (OND) 2023 may contribute to flooding. “We have now entered El Niño conditions which, for Eastern Africa, are synonymous with wetter conditions during OND (October, November, December),” Dr Guleid Artan, ICPAC Director, noted.
After three years of devastating drought, this may be seen as a blessing for farmers. Still, it can quickly become a curse. Desert locusts are already proliferating to alarming levels in parts of the region. The risk of deadly incidents also increases significantly.
“We all remember the last El Niño in 2015/16 when downpours of torrential rains caused landslides, flash floods, and buildings to collapse,” Dr Artan said. Governments and disaster management agencies are advised to take necessary measures to save lives and livelihoods.”
Dr Hussen Seid, Climate Modelling Expert at ICPAC, explained that El Niño is a climate phenomenon characterised by the periodic warming of sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. Its effects can influence weather patterns worldwide.
Another significant phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole is developing over the Indian Ocean and will reinforce the El Niño impacts, Dr Seid said.
October to December constitutes a vital rainfall season, particularly in the equatorial parts of the Greater Horn of Africa, contributing 20-70% of the annual total rainfall. The start of the season will likely occur early in parts of the region where elevated rainfall is anticipated in eastern Kenya, southern Somalia, and eastern Tanzania.
In contrast, probabilities favour an average or delayed onset over parts of northern Somalia, western Kenya, Uganda, southern South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, and north-western Tanzania.
ICPAC is a designated Regional Climate Centre for Eastern Africa by the World Meteorological Organization. Its seasonal forecast is based on rigorous analysis of historical data, prevailing climate signals, and advanced modelling techniques.
For OND 2023, the consolidated objective temperature forecast from nine Global Producing Centres (GPCs) indicates an increased likelihood of warmer-than-usual surface temperatures for almost all parts of the Greater Horn of Africa, particularly over Djibouti, Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, northern Somalia, and parts of coastal Tanzania.