MASERU – Normal to above normal rainfall is expected countrywide during the period from October 2021 to March 2022 with normal to above normal temperatures, according to the ministry of energy and meteorology. In its latest climate outlook for August 2021 to March 2022, the ministry indicated that the 2021/2022 rainfall season was likely to be influenced by the El Niño/La Niña Southern oscillation (ENSO)-neutral to weak La Niña.
It said ENSO-neutral is associated with enhanced precipitation over the country. ENSO has three phases, namely; the neutral phase, El Niño and La Niña. El Niño translates from Spanish as the “boy child” and La Niña, being the opposite, is the “girl child”. In 2015 Lesotho was severely affected by El Niño-induced drought, leaving more than 60 percent of the rural population at risk of food insecurity.
Water shortages were compounded by the cumulative impact of poor rainfall in previous years. The planted area dropped by 19 and 29 percent relative to the 2013/2014 and 2008/2009 seasons, respectively, when average conditions were experienced. The result was a sharp decline in food production and a failure to plant new crops by a large proportion of farmers.
On December 22, 2015, the government declared a state of emergency and launched an appeal seeking the support of development partners and the broader international community to address the effects of the drought.
“ENSO is currently on its neutral phase with most models predicting a possibility of re-emergence of La Niña conditions during September to November 2021 season and lasting through November 2021 to January 2022,” the ministry said.
“The country is expected to receive normal to below normal rains for the period August to September 2021. There is a likelihood of normal to above normal rains countrywide during October 2021 to March 2022,” it added. However, the ministry further indicated, dry episodes are still anticipated between the good rains. It said normal temperatures were anticipated for the period August to March 2021 with high chances of rising above average.
“Occurrences of strong winds, lightning, severe thunderstorms, flash floods and hailstorms, are common weather phenomena in summer,” it said. Climate change is expected to exacerbate occurrence of these conditions resulting in increased frequency and intensity of these extreme weather events. The climate outlook report reads: “It is also worth noting that the current seasonal forecast will be updated in September 2021 as the forecast skill is low during this time. This is to give an indication of what might be expected for better planning and alignment of productive economic activities. “The ministry of energy and meteorology will continuously advise the nation on impending weather hazards which might pose a risk to social welfare and property safety.”