Quick Links

Weekly Updates: Africa | Asia | Latin America

29 April 2011

Africa Update #27: On the Brink of Catastrophe in the East

Although there is more rain falling in eastern Africa than there has been all season long, some areas still haven't seen a drop. The rains are nearly two months late in a three month wet season. A clear Intertropical Convergence Zone has set itself up in west Africa, a good sign there. In the south the wet season continues to come to a close and is showing no signs of pulling out early. Rains are picking up in the north, including disrupting the conflict in Libya.

The rains in the map above show what should have been occurring about a month to a month and a half ago in eastern Africa. Instead, we are going into the final month of the Short Rains with many areas getting their first drops now. The problems with this are many. Livestock, now starved after pasture became scarce, a thin and vulnerable to disease. The arrival of the rains as heavy as they are in Ethiopia and Somalia, could well expose them to disease. Crops can generally ruled out at this point, it is a short season as it is, and there just isn't a crop with a short enough cycle. Notice I skipped Kenya, here the rains remain scarce focusing around Lake Victoria (where, as always, the season is progressing well) and near Mount Kenya, leaving many other areas extremely dry. Rains in Tanzania's bimodal areas, near the border with Kenya, have also seen better short rains as light, inconsistent, rainfall has been the rule this season.

In western Africa, things are progressing quite well. With the conflict (mostly) over with in Côte  d'Ivorie, the start of the heavier rains is good news, possibly a sign that the wet season will progress normally. This is true for the other Gulf of Guinea countries from Cameroon around to Guinea. Further north, light preseason showers have pushed into Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. Things look good, so far, in the west.

As the season wraps up in southern Africa. Rainfall has become light across much of the region, but that is not to say that there is no more moisture left. The likely scenario is that precipitation will shut down on time. Currently heavy rains still persist in Namibia and Angola, possibly resulting in some late season localized flooding. The only countries of concern are Zimbabwe, and to a lesser extent Mozambique. Both had poor rains, but Zimbabwe's moisture deficit is greater and rainfall was more erratic. Add in the mismanaged economy and they will have to import large amounts of food.

Heavy rains, and some scattered thunderstorms, were observed last week in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. These storms may have caused some localized flooding in the Atlas Mountains. To the east in Libya, rainfall was more moderate, and only along the coast. Most of what shows up as "rain" on the above map in Libya, is actually high clouds that the algorithm mistakes for rain. Very little, if any, precipitation in this area actually reached the ground.

Next week shows a very similar precipitation pattern. Rains remain in Angola and Namibia, moisture looks good- though far from sufficient in eastern Africa, and steady rainfall to continue in the western and northern parts of the continent.

No comments:

Post a Comment