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02 September 2011

Africa Update #45: Moisture Returns to Gulf of Guinea Coast

Moisture is picking up, and deficits are dropping, all along the Gulf of Guinea coast. Precipitation was light this past week in marginal parts of North Sudan and Chad. Across the rest of the Sahel and Ethiopia, rainfall has continued to be reasonably consistent. Seasonable rains continue in the Atlas Mountains, as dry weather continues over most of Libya.

After two weeks of almost no rainfall along the Gulf of Guinea coast, precipitation has slowly picked up again this week across Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Liberia. Cote d'Ivorie still hasn't returned to normal, but some moisture has already returned. Temperatures did not rise as fast as they could have, and damage to crops, and cases of heat stroke attributed to the dry spell, are likely to be very widely scattered if they are present at all.  Rainfall deficits have already started dropping and that trend is likely to continue. In land areas of Nigeria, however, continue to have widespread deficits. Here scattered areas of wilted crops are likely and concerns of the overall harvest are likely to stick out. This is not part of the issues with the Gulf of Guinea dryness, but more an issue with poor early season rains. As moisture has picked up since then, shorter cycle crops, and late planted long cycle crops should generally be unaffected.

North Sudan and Chad continue to have small to moderate rainfall deficits. This past week saw poorer totals in Darfur, North Sudan and areas north of N'Djamena, Chad. The worst of the dryness is in North Sudan and over the border  into western Eritrea. Eritrea is contending with drought, however the government there is rather secretive and little is known about the drought.  Ethiopia meanwhile has experienced a rainy season with well distributed rainfall and if precipitation totals have been slightly off, there should be no major consequences.

In the Sahel, the only location of significant concern is western Niger, near Niamey. Here rainfall started off the season poor, and has had the occasional dry spell. The area is not large, but it is the breadbasket of Niger, and a slight disruption here, could have larger consequences.

North Africa has had as typical a season as can be imagined. Moisture has remained steady in the Atlas Mountains from Morocco through Algeria and into Tunisia. Meanwhile, Libya has remained seasonably dry.

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