Met warns of enhanced rainfall, flooding and diseases

Thika Superhighway as pictured after heavy rains on the morning of December 2, 2019. The Kenya Meteorological Department says many parts of the country will experience enhanced rains as the long rains season sets in. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The Met said the rains are expected to peak in April for most regions except the coast, where this will take place in May.
  • Southeastern counties including Machakos, Makueni, Kitui, Taita Taveta and parts of Tana River will welcome the long rains this week.
  • Lightning strikes are highly likely in Western Kenya, especially in Kisii and Kakamega counties.

Kenyans should brace for enhanced rainfall in most parts of the country as the onset of the long rains season sets in this month, the Meteorological Department has said.

The Met said the rains are expected to peak in April for most regions except the coast, where this will take place in May.

Director Stella Aura said near to above average rainfall is expected over most parts of the country including Western, the Coast, Northeastern, Central and Southern regions.

Northwestern parts of the country, particularly Turkana, will experience near average rainfall.

"The long rains season rainfall begin early over most parts of the country, more so over the eastern and southern regions. The forecast for March-April-May (MAM) indicates that much of the country, especially most of the Western and Southern sectors, are likely to experience generally enhanced rainfall," she said.

According to the forecast, the onset of the long rains is expected this week over South Coast, Western, Central highlands, Southern and Central Rift Valley, and the Southeastern region.

The rest of the country is expected to receive the rains during the third and fourth weeks of March.

LAKE BASIN

Ms Aura pointed out that in February, substantial amounts of rainfall were recorded over parts of Central and Western, especially during the first week of the month.

For counties in the Southern parts of the Rift Valley, including Narok and Kajiado, the February rains will continue with occasional breaks during the second week of the month.

A similar weather pattern will be experienced in the Lake Basin counties of Homa Bay, Siaya, Kisumu and Migori.

This will also be the case in Kisii, Nyamira, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nandi, Kericho, Bomet, Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma and Busia on the western side of the Rift Valley.

The rainfall experienced last month in the Central Rift Valley counties of Nakuru, Laikipia and Baringo will continue with occasional breaks next week, the second week of March.

In the central highlands - Nairobi, Nyandarua  Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang'a, Kiambu, Meru, Embu and Tharaka Nithi - the rains will begin this week and break in the second week of March before picking up again in the third and fourth weeks.

SOUTHEASTERN

Southeastern counties including Machakos, Makueni, Kitui, Taita Taveta and parts of Tana River will welcome the long rains this week.

They will break next week and pick up again in the third and fourth week of March.

The same is expected in the southern coastal strip covering Mombasa, Kwale and parts of Kilifi counties.

For counties in the northern Coastal region, including Lamu, northern parts of Kilifi and coastal parts of Tana River, the long rains will begin during the third to fourth weeks of March.

Turkana, West Pokot and Samburu will experience the onset of the long rains in the last week of March and the first week of April.

However, occasional rainfall will be experienced at the start of March.

Wajir, Isiolo, Garissa, Mandera and Marsabit in the Northeastern part will experience the onset of the long rains between the third and fourth weeks of March.

However, occasional rainfall will be experienced at the beginning of this month.

As a consequence of the long rains, farming regions were urged to take advantage of the expected rains and maximize crop yields through appropriate land-use management.

In pastoral areas, pasture and water resources are expected to be abundant for livestock.

CONSEQUENCES

Lightning strikes are highly likely in Western Kenya, especially in Kisii and Kakamega counties.

Cases of flooding in low lying areas as well as landslides and mudslides in the hilly areas of Western, Central and the Rift Valley are also highly probable.

"Floods are very likely to occur in eastern Kenya, central Rift Valley and Central highlands, leading to transport challenges ... with slippery roads and poor visibility during rainstorms, posing dangers to motorists and pedestrians, especially along the Kikuyu-Kinungi stretch on the Nakuru-Nairobi Highway," said the director. 

In the health sector, the enhanced rains could lead to the emergence of diseases such as cholera and typhoid in densely populated areas as a result of flooding and subsequent contamination of water.

"Within the coastal region as well as parts of the Lake Victoria basin counties, diseases such as malaria are likely to emerge due to stagnant pools of rain water. Health authorities should, therefore, equip hospitals with drugs to be able to deal with such situations as they arise," she said.

2019 RECAP

According to the weatherman, the country experienced enhanced rainfall over most parts of the country during the October to December short rains season.

This led to severe storms and flooding in various parts of the country, that led to loss of lives and destruction of property.

There were land and mud slides in Murang’a, West Pokot, Taita Taveta, Makueni and Machakos counties and loss of lives in West Pokot, Machakos and Makueni counties.

Severe flooding occurred in Mombasa, Nairobi, Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Kitui, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori and Tana River Counties leading to loss of humans and livestock in some areas and displacement of people in other areas. Cases of Malaria were also reported in Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties.

"Roads and bridges were washed away in some areas thus disrupting transport systems. Severe hailstone destroyed crops in parts of Busia, Nyandarua, Kakamega, Kericho, Nandi and Laikipia counties. The experienced weather conditions in January were favourable for the breeding and spread of the locusts in various counties," said Ms Aura.

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