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08 December 2011

Climate Prediction Center’s Africa Hazards Outlook For USAID / FEWS-NET December 8 – December 14, 2011

Dryness has continued across southern Africa due to an erratic rainfall distribution since the start of the season.

1) An insufficient and poorly distributed rainfall since the start of the season has resulted in short-term dryness over Lesotho and portions of South Africa, including the Maize Triangle region. A poor rainfall distribution has also led to short-term dryness in northern Zimbabwe. Rainfall forecasts, however, suggest the return of heavy rainfall, which is expected to help to replenish ground moisture and aid cropping activities in the region during the next week.
2) During the past several weeks, a well distributed and frequent rainfall has been observed over portions of southern Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and western Tanzania. This is likely to benefit the development of crops. Favorable rainfall is again expected to continue in the region during the next week.

Persistent heavy rainfall caused flooding and landslides in eastern Africa.
Although the total rainfall amounts have decreased during the past seven days relative to that of the previous week, seasonal rainfall has continued across eastern Africa. Heavy (> 50 mm) rainfall was observed over southern Ethiopia, southern Somalia, and the western two-thirds of Kenya during the past seven days (Figure 1). In Kenya, torrential (> 75 mm) rainfall has followed several weeks of above-average rainfall, resulting in flooding in the Garsen, Bura, Nyatike, Nyando, and Nyakach divisions.

While flooding was also reported over the Kerio Valley of the North Rift region, landslides were reported in the Muranga district of central Kenya. The water excesses have heightened the risks for malaria and other water borne disease outbreaks in the region. In Somalia, although the rainfall pattern was not as widespread as that of during the previous week, heavy rainfall was recorded over the Gedo, Juba, and south of the Lower Shabelle regions. This has resulted in flash flooding and loss of crops in the Gedo region. The heavy rainfall has also inundated and damaged riverine crops over local areas to the south of the Lower Shabelle region. Meanwhile, the Juba River level has continued to rise, raising concerns for flooding along downstream locations.

During the past thirty days, the Greater Horn of Africa has received a well above-average rainfall, with rainfall surpluses exceeding 150 mm over many locations (Figure 2). These include southern Ethiopia, central and southern Somalia, and Kenya. Although the wet conditions have improved conditions over areas that were previously stricken by drought, the excessive water has already adversely impacted agricultural activities, local population, and infrastructure in many local areas.

During the next week, rainfall forecasts suggest a respite of heavy rainfall over eastern Africa, with the heaviest (> 150 mm) rainfall forecast offshore of Somalia. However, light (< 20 mm) rainfall could fall in southern Somalia and Kenya during the next week. This could potentially exacerbate conditions over many already-saturated areas of the region. An erratic rainfall distribution continues over southern Africa. Since the start of the season, southern Africa has experienced an erratic rainfall distribution.

Despite occasional favorable rainfall amounts during the past several weeks, a consistent and well distributed seasonal rainfall has failed to occur. An analysis of the standardized precipitation index indicates moderate to severe (SPI > 2.0) dryness over parts of South Africa, including the Maize Triangle region and Lesotho during November (Figure 3). Dryness was also observed over parts of northern Zimbabwe and Mozambique, while wetness was recorded over Angola and northern Namibia.

The continuation of a poorly distributed rainfall could further delay planting and negatively impact crops in their early development stages over many local areas of southern Africa region. During the next week, rainfall forecasts, however, suggest a return of heavy (> 50 mm) rainfall over much of southern Africa. Heavy rainfall is forecast over the dry portions of South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, and northern Zimbabwe during the next week. This is expected to help to eliminate moisture deficits and aid cropping activities in the region.

Note: The hazards outlook map on page 1 is based on current weather/climate information and short and medium range weather forecasts (up to 1 week). It assesses their potential impact on crop and pasture conditions. Shaded polygons are added in areas where anomalous conditions have been observed. The boundaries of these polygons are only approximate at this continental scale. This product does not reflect long range seasonal climate forecasts or indicate current or projected food security conditions.

FEWS NET is a USAID-funded activity whose purpose is to provide objective information about food security conditions. Its views are not necessarily reflective of those of USAID or the U.S. Government. The FEWS NET weather hazards outlook process and products include participation by FEWS NET field and home offices, NOAA-CPC, USGS, USDA, NASA, and a number of other national and regional organizations in the countries concerned. Questions or comments about this product may be directed to or 1-301-763-8000 x7566. Questions about the USAID FEWSNET activity may be directed to Gary Eilerts, USAID Program Manager for FEWSNET, 1-202-219-0500 or