The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has said the weak La Nina weather phenomenon, which has been influencing the country’s weather conditions during 2016/17 rainfall season, has now ended.
In a statement released on Sunday, the department says La Nina has been replaced with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (Enso)-neutral condition which is usually referred to as ‘La Nada’, a condition where sea surface temperatures are neither warm nor cool across the central equatorial Pacific Ocean.
“There is, therefore, neither La Nina nor El Nino. Models are indicating that the neutral conditions should persist through the next few months into April/May period which is often a transitional time, after which models have a hard time looking past the Enso conditions,” reads a statement signed by the department’s director Jolamu Nkhokwe.
However, the department says although La Nina has ended, it could still continue to influence weather in some parts of the world, including Malawi, during March.
Reads the statement: “However, specific impacts always differ from place to place and for different seasons because other factors such as temperatures of the Indian Ocean, the Tropical Atlantic Ocean and local factors such as the lakes and mountains are also known to influence the rainfall pattern over the country.”
The department has also said that its 2016/17 rainfall season forecast released in November 2016 still stands.
The forecast indicated that during the period between the months of January to March 2017, the greater part of the country is expected to experience normal to above normal rainfall amounts and that overall, the greater part of the country is going to experience normal to above normal rainfall amounts during October 2016 to March 2017.
Malawi experienced one of the strongest El Nino conditions in the 2015/16 rainfall season.
Between 2015 and 2016, the country experienced one of the worst hunger situations following an El Nino related drought which led to countrywide crop failures during the 2015/2016 agriculture season.
Following the end of the El Nino, La Nina event influenced the weather conditions during the 2016/17 rainfall season over Southern Africa and Malawi.
La Niña events are generally associated with increased rainfall in southern Africa which include southern and some central areas of Malawi, and rainfall deficiency in equatorial eastern Africa that includes northern and some central areas of Malawi.