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Weekly Updates: Africa | Asia | Latin America

28 October 2010

Africa Update #1

Wet conditions continue across much of Africa, as the rains have been slow to move south, as fast as they typically would this time of year. This slow retreat of the rains has compounded with a wetter than normal rainy season in west Africa. The end result is unusually saturated soils in western and eastern Africa with flooding being a regular feature all season long. The slower than usually southward movement of the rains has also left parts of southern Africa dry for the early part of their wet season.

Heavy rainfall continued this week from eastern Côte d'Ivoire across towards Central African Republic. Especially heavy rainfall fell around the Lagos area in southwestern Nigeria along with western and central parts of Central African Republic. Here rainfall totals are estimated to exceed 100 mm (4 inches) of precipitation during the last week.

Lighter, but unseasonable rainfall continues across northern Africa, including Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Much of the rainfall shown in the interior areas of Algeria and Libya probably evaporated before reaching the ground.

In eastern Africa, what has been an usually wet year, continues into October, with thunderstorms continuing in Ethiopia and northern parts of Somalia well after rainfall normally would have ended there. Precipitation is also continuing across much of Kenya, along with the area around Lake Victoria including northern Tanzania and all of Uganda.

Southern Africa, however, is looking more concerning. Although precipitation has been steady across the southern 2/3 of Madagascar, and the KwaZulu-Natal coast in southwestern South Africa remains the only area that has seen steady rainfall. Angola was the only area of significance to see a change. Here, rainfall is estimated to have exceeded 50 mm (2 inches) during the past week. That has been enough to turn around some of the worst deficits in southern Africa. Eastern and southern parts of Angola still have significant moisture deficits. Dry conditions can also be found across South Africa’s Maize Triangle region.
Despite the rising deficits this is still very early in the season and there is plenty of time to make up the needed precipitation. As for the areas that are unusually wet, there is always the potential for the spread of water borne diseases, as well as localized flooding. However, the additional moisture will help to keep drinking water plentiful.
Next weeks rainfall pattern looks to be similar to last weeks, however a font does look like it may bring the first significant rainfall of the year to South Africa’s Maize Triangle. Temperatures look to remain above freezing in both the Atlas and Drakensburg Mountains.
All graphics are from the Climate Prediction Center’s RFE 2.0, a satellite estimation tool for rainfall.


  1. Nice analysis. The ITF has been incredibly sluggish to retreat this season, and actually had reverted northward over parts of extreme western Sahel. UN reports over 1.7 million people affected by flooding this season, with a recently large majority impacted in Benin, Nigeria. Down south, the MT rains indeed needs to get moving. Hopefully, La Nina will come to the rescue soon. -NN.

  2. Thanks for writing on this often under reported subject. I wouldn't worry about the lack of rain/early season dryness in southern Africa. The dry conditions will help to facilitate fieldwork and planting activities. The seasonal rains tend to be above average during La Nina year, although the season will typically start a bit later than usual. What I would worry about are:

    - the potential for an active tropical cyclone season the southern Indian Ocean

    - the potential for river flooding along the major river systems

    - the potential for the OND rains to shut down early in the Lake Victoria Basin.

    Just like old times...

  3. This is great. I appreciate that you are bringing the developing world to the common man that may be out of touch, but still curious.