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25 August 2011

Africa Update #44: Improvement over the Sahel, Rains Faulter near Gulf of Guinea

Improved moisture has all but eliminated precipitation deficits in Niger and Chad, although concerns still linger about dryness in North and South Sudan. Precipitation has almost shut off across some Gulf of Guinea countries and ground moisture remains anomalously low across Nigeria. In the east, precipitation remains steady over Ethiopia. Seasonable hot and dry weather continues in Libya.
Moderate to heavy rainfall across Niger and Chad has all but eliminated rainfall deficits from earlier in the season. Places like Mali and Burkina Faso never really had any deficits to begin with, so the added moisture has padded their totals without causing any widespread flooding concerns. North and South Sudan, primarily the North, has not had quite enough moisture for crops. The deficits aren't severe, and could be corrected, although time is short as the rains will soon begin their seasonal retreat southward. Heavy rainfall may have caused flooding last week along the Mali-Senegal border. Upwards of 200 mm (8 inches) of rainfall inundated the area.

Meanwhile, from Nigeria along the coast to Sierra Leone, precipitation has been somewhat off. In Nigeria rainfall has been suppressed all season long, although not severely enough to raise major concerns, but not minor enough that it can be ignored. Scattered and isolated crop failures are possible if moisture doesn't improve. The other countries, primarily Cote d'Ivorie, Ghana and southern parts of Togo and Benin, have had precipitation cut off sharply. It's normal for rainfall to decrease slightly here as the rains peak further north, however a sharp end to the rains could do damage to crops if temperatures get hot. Thus far temperatures have risen slightly, but not to extreme values.

Rainfall has continued across the highlands of Ethiopia. Rainfall has been sufficient and well distributed throughout the season.

Libya is typically hot and dry this time of year, and weather is not expected to play a significant role in the ongoing battle for Tripoli. Heat exhaustion and dehydration remain the biggest threats (weather wise) to civilians and military personnel.

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