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Experts blame El-Niño for heatwave

The after-effects of last year’s El-Niño phenomenon, coupled with global warming, are to blame for the current high temperatures the country is experiencing, experts have said.

However, relief from the heat is around the corner as the weatherman has indicated that the long rains are likely to start by the end of this week.

In recent days, Nairobi, whose average temperature is normally around 26 degrees Celsius in March, has been enveloped by a heat wave, with temperatures rising beyond the 30-degree Celsius mark.

These high temperatures, however, follow a global phenomenon; as a result of the recent El-Niño rains, February was the hottest ever recorded globally, according to American space agency Nasa, whose records go back 120 years.

January was also the most sweltering in the planet’s history.

Data from the space agency shows the average global surface temperature in February was 1.35 Celsius warmer than the average temperature for the month over the past 50 years, a far bigger margin than ever seen before.

The year 2015 also recorded the highest average global temperatures in more than a century, according to the organisation.

And, with its scorching start, the year, 2016 looks set to shatter its predecessor’s record.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Average global surface temperatures are the yardstick used by the United Nations to measure the effects of climate change.

As the temperatures start to cool off, however, Kenyans face another health risk; the weatherman has advised people to exercise better sanitation and proper handling of food and water as the long rains start.

The Kenya Meteorological Department has, however, warned that although the season is here us, the rainfall might be depressed in various parts of the country.

This means farmers are likely to have failed crops, leading to food scarcities in the country. Already, Ethiopian and Somali agencies have sounded the alarm over biting food insecurities, which are expected to get worse as the year wears on.

But, speaking to the Nation, Mr Samuel Mwangi, head of weather forecasting at the Meteorological Department, said the reduction in the amount of rainfall had nothing to do with effects of climate change.

“The pattern of the rain depends on a lot of variables which may not necessarily be as a result of climate change. Some seasons experience very high amounts of rainfall yet others are low,” said Mr Mwangi.

Mr Mwangi said that, according to the department’s predictive data, southern, eastern, western and central regions of the country will have experienced wet weather by Friday this week.

“The rain belt is coming in from the southern to the western part of Kenya,” said Mr Mwangi.