• Dr Gikungu still urged Kenyans to prepare by updating themselves with weather reports issued by KMD, and seeking expert advice in relevant sectors to minimise adverse weather impacts.
•Dr Gikungu said while El Nino can result in heavier-than-normal rainfall, this can vary significantly between events.
The weatherman says it is increasingly likely that El Niño is on its way.
However, Dr David Gikungu, the head of Kenya Meteorological Department, noted that its effects – usually heavy rains in Kenya – are typically seen from October and not in June, July or August.
Dr Gikungu urged Kenyans to keep updating themselves with weather reports issued by KMD, and seeking expert advice in relevant sectors to minimise adverse weather impacts.
“It is important to note that El Niño itself is not rain, but rather an effect that can impact weather patterns and lead to heavier-than-normal rainfall in East Africa,” he said in a statement.
He added: “While heavy rains are commonly experienced during El Niño events, it is also notable that these effects are typically most significant during the October-January months and not in June, July and August. It should also be understood that El Niño is not necessarily a direct cause of heavy rainfall.”
Model predictions and expert assessments globally indicate a moderate probability (60 per cent chance) for the onset of El Niño during May- July 2023.
This probability is expected to increase to 60-70 per cent during June-August and it is highly likely (with a chance of 70-80 per cent) in July-through October 2023.
El Niño conditions are expected to persist up to the October-December 2023 rainfall season and may extend to the November to January season.
Dr Gikungu said while El Nino can result in heavier-than-normal rainfall, this can vary significantly between events.
For instance, the 1987 October-December season was an El Niño event that did not result in heavy rainfall over the country, he said.
Additionally, in 2015, the El Niño index was higher than that of 1997 but the country did not experience as much rainfall as it did in 1997.
“The forecast for June to August 2023 will be issued at the end of May. The public is advised to stay informed by updating themselves with weather reports issued by KMD, and seeking expert advice in relevant sectors to minimize adverse weather impacts,” he said.
Last week, the US and Japan weather agencies said they were confident El Niño would begin at the end of this month and continue into 2024.
They said it will likely be a “strong” or “significant” phenomenon.
“El Niño is likely to form during the May-July season and persist into the winter (February 2024),” the US National Weather Service Climate Prediction Centre said.
“The combination of a forecast third westerly wind event in mid-late May, and high levels of above-average oceanic heat content means that a potentially significant El Niño is on the horizon.”
However, because sudden weather changes can be unpredictable, it is still possible an El Niño fails to materialise, but there is only a five to 10 per cent chance of that, the centre said.
On Friday, Japan's weather bureau said conditions were nearing for the El Niño phenomenon to form in the equatorial region of the Pacific, and there was an 80 per cent chance it would be seen by the northern hemisphere summer, Reuters reported.