El Nino won’t be as bad as 1997

By: JOHN MUCHANGI

The weatherman confirms a big El Nino will hit Kenya but says it is unlikely to unleash the fury and destruction of 1997.

Meteorological services director James Kongoti yesterday said there is a greater than 90 per cent chance El Nino will continue through to the short rains.

He said there is an 80 per cent chance it will last into early 2016.

Kongoti attempted to allay fears of massive flooding, saying the El Nino this year may not bring the devastation of the one in 1997.

He said trends are being analysing and promised to issue a full forecast next Tuesday.

“This forecast will show a clear picture of how El Nino and other factors will influence the rainfall patterns during short rains [October-November-December],” he said in a statement.

Predictions from major global forecasters show a mega El Nino likely to be the heaviest in 60 years.

But Kongoti said the El Nino in Kenya might be subdued by the complex nature of the topography and the large lakes.

“Physical features and the neighbouring oceans [Indian and the Atlantic] play significant roles in modifying the large-scale circulation patterns, and thus modify El Nino-related anomalies in the country,” he said.

El Nino’s impacts vary not only from location to location and from season to season, but from one El Nino to another.

Not all El Ninos result in what was experienced in 1997.

Subsequent to 1997, there were other El Nino events in 2002-03, 2006-07 and 2009-10.

“To ordinary people, these went unnoticed because their impacts were not as that of the 1997 El Nino.” Kongoti said.