Kenyans told to brace for long rains

March 20, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 20 – The Kenya Meteorological Department forecasts that the annual long rains will start this coming week.

The Director of Meteorological Services Joseph Mukabana said the rains that have started in parts of Meru, Nyeri, Embu, Narok, Marsabit, Kitale, Garissa, Voi and Mandera will pick up during the week.

“This will mark the proper onset of the March-April-May 2010 Long-Rains season,” Mr Mukabana said in a statement on Saturday.

The rains that started in late February had confused farmers coming at a time when most of them had not harvested last season’s maize. A section of the farmers have started planting for the next season.

In his forecast Mr Mukabana said that parts of Laikipia, Isiolo, north-western Mandera and extending to parts of north-eastern Moyale are expected to experience above normal rainfall.

The seven-day rainfall totals in some of these areas are projected to be about 100mm

“This is quite intense for these semi-arid zones and close monitoring is important,” he said.

This intense rainfall he said may lead to enhanced surface runoff and potential flash floods.

This warning comes barely weeks after another series of torrential rains and floods in more than 15 districts in Kenya from December 2009 led to the deaths of 24 people and left massive destruction of houses, household property, infrastructure and farmlands.

The Kenya Red Cross Society predicted that more than 6,000 livestock were killed by the raging floods that have affected some 70,000 people among them 30,000 who required urgent humanitarian assistance.

The Meteorological Department had however predicated El Nino rains would commence with the onset of the short rains that started last October and urged the government to prepare for its consequences.

Samburu and other parts of Northern Kenya were submerged by floods earlier in the month leading to the closure of a number of lodges.

This month’s forecast however assures that water levels at River Nzoia, which is vulnerable to flooding, are still relatively low.

“Alert or warning level is when the River flow level is 2.8m above the reference datum while a flood level is attained when the flow level reaches 3.5m above the reference datum. Currently, the water level is at 0.7m above the reference datum,” says the statement.


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