Meteorology Department Issues El Nino Alert

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The World Meteorological Station concurs with the authority. It says the Southern Ocean Oscillation Index has generally been in excess of El Nino thresholds in the past three months.

Uganda National Meteorology Authority has issued an El Nino alert calling for preparation for preparation of the members of the public for the occurrence of the adverse weather event. According to the alert, El Nino is expected to occur between December 2014 and February 2015. El Niño is a weather condition characterized by unusually long rainfall conditions with the possibility of flooding and landslides. 

Jackson Rwakishaija, the Acting Executive Director Uganda National Meteorological Authority says there are adequate factors putting the probability of occurrence at up to 70 percent. He says the Pacific Ocean has shown renewed signs of El Nino development in recent weeks adding that, above average temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean typical of El Nino conditions have warmed further in the last fortnight.
The World Meteorological Station concurs with the authority. It says the Southern Ocean Oscillation Index has generally been in excess of El Nino thresholds in the past three months.  According to Rwakishaija, not all factors responsible for development of El Nino have been satisfied. He says regardless of whether or not El Nino fully develops, warmer than average tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures combined with cooler waters currently observed to the north of Australia increases the chance of El Nino like impacts over the East African region. 

Rwakishaija concludes that this suggests above average rainfall during the month of December and January over Uganda.  The authority warns that when the predicted El Nino comes, it will be stormy accompanied by strong winds and sometimes hail stones. Uganda's capital Kampala has been experiencing heavy rains in recent weeks that resulted into flooding. El Niño conditions tend to occur once in every five years.

The last severe El Nino in Uganda occurred in 2006 causing massive flooding in Teso, Lango and Acholi regions. Mountainous areas like Sironko, Kapchorwa, Mbale, Bundibugyo and Kabale face the increased risk of landslides during severe El Nino. The Alert comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned the world of the worst climate conditions ahead. 

Dr. Rajendra Kumhar Pachauri, the head of United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told negotiators in Lima Climate talks that the increase in temperatures observed in 2014 is much more than any observed in the last 10 years. In neighboring Kenya, the Meteorological Department has reported that there will be abnormal rains in many parts of the country till next year. 

James G. Kongoti, the acting Director of Kenya Meteorological Services and permanent representative of Kenya at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says the October to December season indicates that much of the country is likely to experience enhanced rainfall.

He attributes this to the expected evolution of global sea surface temperatures that is favorable for the development of a weak El Nino during the season. According to the Kenya Meteorological Department, the sea surface temperatures off the East African coastline are expected to revert to neutral conditions early in the season. 


About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.