Good possibility for rain

The coming rainy season looks a little better than the previous one, mainly due to a weakened, El Niño phenomenon. One meteorologist even expects a weak La Niña effect.

18 August 2019 | Disasters

Swakopmund • Erwin Leuschner

For many Namibians, especially farmers, there may be a small glimmer of hope.

The strong El Niño phenomenon, which is one of the reasons for the current drought, is lessening. This is a good sign for the Swakopmund geo-physicist Klaus-Peter Knupp, a part-time meteorologist.

“I think the rain will be late this year because the El Niño is still on-going, but from January we can expect to see an average rainy season,” he said in an interview with our sister publication Allgemeine Zeitung.

Knupp, who has analyzed much data, expects that a weak La Niña phenomenon could reach its peak between December and February.

Still, as promising as his data may be, the hobby meteorologist warns: “Although El Niño is probably the most dominant factor, it's not the only thing that determines the fate of our rains.”

Yet, he is cautiously optimistic. “I am 50 percent certain that the upcoming rainy season may be better than the previous one.” However, he does not want to say anything about the rainfall after February 2020, because “there is still a high level of uncertainty”.

A La Niña phenomenon creates mostly good rainfall for southern Africa, but at the same time it creates above-average ­hurricane occurrences in the United States. It is precisely for this reason that the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Authority has issued weather warnings for the coming season.

Meanwhile, the current El Niño has caused a drought of severe proportions in ­southern Africa. In Zimbabwe, more than two ­million people are suffering as a result of the drought, according to the news channel CNN, while in Zambia Bloomberg reports of “the worst drought since 1981”.

“We can only hope for the best,” Knupp says.

Knupp has already measured and recorded much surprising data this year. According to him, July in Windhoek was the hottest since 2001. He has come across the same phenomenon in large parts of southern ­Africa, where it was on average between one and eight degrees Celsius warmer than the average temperature for this season.

However, the same did not apply to the coast. “After a brief breather in June, thanks to the east wind days, temperatures in Swakopmund fell below the average in July,” Knupp said.

In addition, this past July was the wettest he has ever recorded. He measured 4.9 mm of moisture, which he says came only from the fog. “There were also some days that were characterised by strange, light drizzle.”

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