La Niña fades as drought lingers in parts of southern Africa

The chances of La Niña, bringing above average rainfall to parts of southern Africa, are diminishing as the season grows older.

“Our weak La Niña continues, but it’s on its last legs and probably won’t be around for much longer,” said Tony Barnston, chief forecaster at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University.

Barnston said neutral conditions, with an equal chance of La Niña or El Niño developing, will most likely prevail from January.

Despite a weaker La Niña, some regions can still expect above average rainfall, but in other areas drought conditions will persist.

According to the latest IRI forecast, there is a 40% chance that south-western Zambia, north-western Zimbabwe, north-western Namibia and south-eastern Angola may get more rain than usual in January.

Drought takes a toll

Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows large parts of southern Africa, including areas in Namibia, Zambia, western and southern South Africa, and Zimbabwe, had below average rainfall in the past month.

According to the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions(SACAU), the El Niño, that has caused the most devastating drought, in the past 100 years, in southern Africa “continues to bite the SADC(Southern African Development Community) region.”

SACAU has warned that ongoing dry conditions in the region continue to exact a heavy socio-economic toll on farmers, in its member organisations, despite the recent rain.

Areas in northern Botswana, eastern South Africa and Zimbabwe, had above average rainfall.

The forecast predicts a chance of above-average rainfall over some parts of central Zambia, eastern Zimbabwe and central Mozambique until the 26 December.

The remaining countries in the SADC region can expect typical rainfall patterns.
From 27 December to 2 January drier conditions, and below average rainfall, will prevail in eastern Botswana, most of Zimbabwe and southern Mozambique.

Malawi, northern Zambia and northern Mozambique should have more rain than usual during this time.

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