El Niño expected to bring heavy rainfall and flooding to the Horn of Africa. Credit Munichre El Niño expected to bring heavy rainfall and flooding to the Horn of Africa. Credit Munichre

El Niño returns – impact on climate in Eritrea and the Horn of Africa

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last week that the long-anticipated El Niño has finally arrived.

NOAA’s forecasters issued an El Niño Advisory to declare the arrival of the ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean near the equator.

The last El Niño ended in April 2010, four years and 10 months ago, making this the longest interval between El Niños since records began in 1950.

El Niño is expected to bring droughts in Central America, Australia, and Indonesia, while other regions — the southwestern United States, Southern South America, and the Horn of Africa are predicted to experience rain and heavy floods.

Eritrea and the Horn of Africa is likely to suffer from combination of droughts and floods, which together could have a negative impact on the region.

El Nino Rainfall seasons by region. Credit: IRI
El Nino rainfall seasons. Credit: International Research Institute

However, according to NOAA, the current El Niño is of weaker intensity compared to previous years and as a result weather conditions may not be as extreme as the levels known from previous El Niños.

This was different during the El Niño in 1996, when Eritrea experienced rains outside the normal rain season in October during harvest time, which led to spoilage in stacks of harvested cereals and reduced yields of crops after a hot drought in September, when the crops were at the critical maturing stage, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1998.

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Another effect of El Niño, especially in some parts of the Horn of Africa, was the severe infrastructure damage on roads, bridges and rail lines as a result of erosion and heavy rains.

This caused serious disruption to socio-economic life and movement of goods within and between countries.

One can only hope that scientists got their predictions right this time and that the current El Niño phenomenon will be less severe compared to past ones.

By Editorial Team

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