NAIROBI, September 4 – The Kenya Meteorological Department is now attributing the formation of snowflakes in Kericho and Nandi hills to climate change.
Meteorological Services Director Joseph Mukabana said on Wednesday that the snowflakes formed as a result of huge temperature differences between air masses from the Western and South Eastern parts of the country.
He assured Kenyans that the meteorological department was keenly monitoring the development.
“It was not a block of ice that fell on the ground covering 30 acres. Generally, it was just hailstones. When they fall on the ground they coalesce forming the snow-like substance,” Mukabana explained.
He drew attention to the fact that hailstones form in thunderstorms out of small particles of compacted snow.
He said that the updrafts and downdrafts in storms cause the particles to be cycled by being blown upwards into the anvil of the storm, falling in the downdraft, captured by an updraft again in an ongoing cycle.
He pointed out that during each cycle; the hailstone accumulates ice crystals and water droplets. “This is why hailstones have a layered structure,” he said.
The core of a hailstone is usually a graupel particle, or a cluster of graupel. In severe thunderstorms, hailstones may grow as big as 8 to 10 cm before finally falling out of the cloud.
Typically though, hail is around 1cm in diameter or smaller.
Mukabana spoke after releasing the weather forecast for the short rainy season, where he highlighted the need to strengthen disaster management measures in the country.
Earlier, Nyahururu District Commissioner Hassan Farah led a government delegation to the area where the snowflakes fell and confirmed that no damage had been reported during the storm.
“There is nothing unusual. I want to ask the people in this region to remain calm. There should be no cause for alarm,” Farah assured the public.
Farah further affirmed the government’s intention to reclaim the once forested land to curb soil erosion that was threatening the area.
“Indeed there is need for replanting this forest that was destroyed in 1990 and we want to ask the director of the Kenya Forest service to speed this up,” he said.
The last snow-storm in the area was reported 30 years ago.