27 November 2012

Tanzania: Weather Agency Cautions Public on Uncertain Rain Trends

Photo: Marc Nkwame/Daily News
Pupils queue to fetch clean water in Yaeda Chini Valley (file photo).

LATEST weather trends indicate rainfall uncertainties and the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) has advised the public to use water carefully and store sufficient feed for livestock.

According to a statement issued by the TMA, the country has been experiencing anomalies in its Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) over the Tropical Pacific belt. It showed that sea surface temperature in the region has been at an average during recent months, though it neither shows if the region is experiencing El Nino or La Nina.

"More to this, in the Indian Ocean region bordering our country, the sea temperature was above average, patterns of wind and air pressure continued, resulting in loss of moisture in the atmosphere," TMA forecasts. According to the agency, the changes in the temperature of the sea and air conditioning systems were not common and have not been seen in previous years.

Due to this unprecedented change, weather related institutions in the region of the Horn of Africa (ICPAC) and Southern Africa (SADC-CSC) for the first time have organised a workshop, that will bring together weather experts including those in Tanzania to do an analysis of air conditioning systems and provide references to seasonal rainfall patterns.

The statement said that the meeting would take place on November 29 and 30, 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya and on December 5 to 13, 2012, in Lusaka, Zambia. After the regional report, the TMA is expected to review the report and provide referrals to forecast the rainy season in the country.

TMA forecasted that in areas with high rainfall of twice a year, especially in the Lake Victoria region (Kagera, Mara, Mwanza, Geita, Shinyanga and Simiyu) rain would continue to fall. The anomalies were first predicted during TMA's March to May 2012 rainfall season review, which predicted the presence of warm SSTs over the Tropical Pacific Ocean, implying a "likelihood of weak El-Nino conditions."

However, for the past couple of months experienced patterns that show the temperature of the ocean's tropical belt in the Pacific Ocean had increased yet air pressure at sea level and clouds failed to correlate with poor increase in sea temperatures.

The March report also predicted that the current neutral to slight warming over western Indian Ocean (East African coast), coupled with slight cooling over eastern Indian Ocean (over Indonesia), indicates a mild positive Indian Ocean Dipole during the season.

"Westerly winds anomalies are expected in October, November and December, 2012 over the southwestern Indian Ocean, thus moderate northeasterly to easterly wind are expected towards the East African coast," the review reads in part.

It, however, stated that the highland areas of the North East (the regions of Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Manyara) and North Coast (Coast regions, Morogoro, Dar es Salaam, Tanga and the islands of Unguja and Pemba) there had been rain which was below average.

The review had advised that there was a high risk of disease outbreak like Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Rift Valley Fever (RVF) and that pastoralists and agro-pastoralists were advised to harvest and conserve pasture for use during dry period.

Also, regular dipping and vaccination against pests and diseases are highly recommended. The statement said that there was a possibility that the rainy period would be shortened because of these changes that have been encountered before and advised the public to continue to take all precautions.

"The agency continues to monitor weather systems and extend weather report updates from time to time," the statement reads in part.

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