This year, weather patterns are being
affected by the phenomenon known as El Nino.
And while it may be centered in the tropical Pacific, it has far
reaching implications for many countries, including those in Africa.
Gerry Bell, a meteorologist at NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, says, "El Nino is a periodic warming of the ocean temperatures
over the eastern half of the Pacific Ocean, along the Equator."
Nino affects the weather patterns throughout the globe. Its biggest impacts are in theSome
regions get more rain, others less. Some
are warmer, some colder with more storms.
The strength and number of hurricanes can be affected, as well as some
African rain patterns.
El Nino can affect the south African monsoon region. And that monsoon season goes from October
through April. Typically, the south
African monsoon is dryer than normal. In
a moderate or strong El Nino, the dryness could become more severe," he says.
and Madagascar, he says, are among the
countries that could experience a decline in rainfall.
equatorial eastern Africa, Bell says, "Rainfall tends to be enhanced during
December, January and February, but what impacts that has on agriculture I
really don't know."
typical El Nino lasts about a year and the current one began in June.
some uncertainty, but we're expecting this to most likely be a moderate
strength event, as we start getting into November, December. Some of the computer models are suggesting it
could be a strong event, but again, there's quite a bit of uncertainty in the forecast,"
Other regions affected
the western tropical Pacific Ocean in Indonesia receives below normal rainfall
during El Nino. And we're already seeing
those below normal rains in place. At
the same time, you tend to have above normal rainfall across the eastern half
of the Pacific Ocean," he says.
western coast of South America may also experience heavy rainfall and flooding.
now, we're seeing El Nino helping to suppress the Atlantic hurricane
season. That's good news for the United
States…a little bit weaker season than some of these very strong ones we've
been seeing in recent years," he says.
NOAA uses satellites, ocean buoys,
ship reports and other means to track El Nino on a daily basis, if desired.