Madagascar cyclones to harm Kenya rainfall

March 6, 2012 4:21 pm


Tropical Storm Irina has devastated Madagascar/ FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 6 – The Meteorological Department has warned that the devastating cyclones in Madagascar are likely to reduce the amount of rainfall in Kenya between March to May.

The Director of Meteorological Services Joseph Mukabana said on Tuesday that even though most parts of the country would experience near normal rainfall, the tendency will be a below normal pattern.

He stated that during the period, the long rains are also likely to exhibit poor distribution both in time and space over most parts of the country.

“Our worries are the fact that over Malagasy we have tropical cyclones. These are systems where the radius off the centre is about 40 kilometres, so the low pressure inside it causes it to suck the air from countries around it,” he said. “When we have tropical cyclones passing there, them we are denied moisture but we are going to keep track of them.”

Tropical Storm Irina has killed at least 65 people in Madagascar, before lashing the coasts of South Africa and Mozambique, where at least one person was killed.

In the South African city of Durban, beaches were closed as waves reached a height of three metres (16 feet), municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said. Ships were ordered to remain in port.

Irina was the second killer storm of the season. Last month, tropical cyclone Giovanna left 35 people dead and many more injured.
Madagascar’s cyclone season normally runs from November through February and costs dozens of lives every year.

Mukabana also pointed out that cool air blowing in the Indian Ocean is expected to contribute to low rainfall during the season.

“When the Indian Ocean is very warm and we have South Eastern winds coming into the country, they pass over this warm ocean and collect moisture which they inject into the country and that causes rain,” he said.

“When the oceans are very cold, they do not give out moisture. In our forecast, we are seeing that the Indian Ocean is going to be a bit cool,” he stated.

He further issued an alert to planes flying to the Western part of the country to exercise caution during the long rains season expected to commence this month all the way to May.

Mukabana said the region will experience lightning and thunderstorms which may air affect travel.

“Lightning strikes may occur in Western Kenya especially between Gusii and Kakamega counties owing to strong convectional activities between Lake Victoria, the Mau escarpment and Mt Elgon. There is air circulation there during the rains that gives a lot of convection,” he warned.

Mukabana stated that people living in the Western part of Kenya should properly utilise the rains through appropriate land use management.

“In the agricultural counties of Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley where the rainfall is expected to be near normal with the tendency towards above normal, the farming communities should take advantage of the rains and maximize the crop yield through appropriate land use management,” he said. “Farmers are advised to work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture on ways of taking advantage of expected good rains.”

He pointed out that those in regions that will experience low rainfall should liaise with the Ministry of Agriculture to find out which crops do well in dry regions.

“The Central Highlands including Nairobi area are expected to receive depressed rainfall in March and April and near average rainfall in May. The North Eastern region is likely to experience depressed rainfall throughout the season.”


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