El Niño seen hitting southern Africa inlate 2002

By Reuters
Tuesday, May 07, 2002

JOHANNESBURG — The South African Weather Service said Monday it expects an El Niño to hit southern Africa at the end of the year, bringing yet another dry spell after a disappointing harvest already this year.
“Indications are showing that an El Niño is coming, and the data we are getting month after month shows it is underway,” said Melton Mugeri, a meteorologist at the South African Weather Service.
“It is very bad news indeed. The sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific are expected to peak toward the end of this year. An El Niño is clearly on the way,” he said.
The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) is busy estimating how many people it has to feed in six southern African countries where summer crops have failed largely because of adverse weather — but also because of political turmoil and poor planning.
The WFP’s regional director for east and southern Africa, Judith Lewis, said in April that the scale of disaster if crops failed again in the coming season would be “unimaginable.” The WFP is already feeding 2.6 million people in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia. Zimbabwe and Lesotho have declared states of disaster because of food shortages.
The U.S.-based Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) said it is too early to say how intense the El Niño could be because the crucial period for its development is April through June.
Meteorologists will meet in Tanzania at the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum in September and could issue an El Niño warning then, Mugeri said. The intensity of the El Nino is difficult to forecast.
Source: ENN



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